by Xinhua writer Shen Zhonghao
As Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is due to arrive here for his Europe visit, it is clear that frequent high-level exchanges and bilateral dialogue at different levels and in various fields will nudge China-European Union (EU) relations forward in the right direction.
More than 15 years on, the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership remains steady on the path toward greater development and more pragmatic results.
Over the years, the two sides have seen strengthened strategic mutual trust, broader common interests, closer economic and trade ties, as well as more frequent cultural and personnel exchanges.
The world is undergoing profound changes amid growing uncertainties and risks, rising protectionism and expanding income inequality within and beyond national borders.
Under such circumstances, China and the EU, two major participants in and contributors to multi-polarity and economic globalization, have every reason to further strengthen their bilateral relations.
The history of China-EU relations in recent decades shows that the key to progress lies in mutually beneficial cooperation.
The EU has been China's largest trading partner for 15 consecutive years, and China has now become the EU's second-largest trading partner.
Moreover, European enterprises are embracing the Chinese market by expanding their businesses in the world's second-largest economy, while the EU is a prime destination for China's overseas investment.
It is natural for China and the EU to compete with each other in some areas. However, it is not a "You-lose-I-win" or "Winner-takes-all" game; competition and cooperation go hand-in-hand.
Healthy competition can help businesses grow, and bring customers better goods and services. And when it comes to solving their differences, it is important for both sides to strike a constructive tone, and uphold the principles of mutual respect and win-win cooperation.
More importantly, China and the EU share great potential and opportunities to expand cooperation in trade, investment, innovation and other sectors.
Chinese investment now takes up 2 percent of all foreign direct investment (FDI) flowing into the EU, whereas the EU's investment in China constitutes 4 percent of the EU's total overseas investment. There's a large room for growth.
An increasing number of European enterprises such as chemical giant BASF, carmaker BMW and financial institutions AXA and Allianz have expressed readiness to expand their investment in China while the Asian country is undergoing a new round of reform and opening-up.
In the meantime, Italy and Luxembourg have inked memoranda of understanding on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with China. Their participation will inject fresh impetus into strengthening the synergy between the BRI and the EU's strategy to connect Europe and Asia.