Diplomats, experts discuss China-EU connectivity cooperation

Diplomats from European countries and experts on China-EU relations attended an academic conference at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing on Tuesday to discuss connectivity cooperation between China and the European Union.

Fruitful achievements have been made in the cooperation between China and European countries in the fields of infrastructure, trade, finance, and people-to-people exchanges since the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was proposed in 2013, experts said at the conference, which was co-organized by the Institute of European Studies with CASS and 16+1 Think Tank Network with CASS. 

"The Belt and Road Initiative means you create interconnectivity across the Eurasia Continent," said Nicolas Chapuis, EU ambassador to China. 

In order to better connect Europe and Asia, EU in September adopted a new and comprehensive connectivity strategy, emphasizing that China would be a priority for bilateral cooperation, and highlighting the China-EU cooperation on the connectivity platform.

This connectivity strategy, together with the China-proposed BRI, have provided a strong signal of cooperation between China and European countries, sending a reassuring message to people around the world concerned about the consequences of resurging unilateralism and protectionism.

"We need China, and China needs Europe to create interdependence and reconcile the world with globalization," said Chapuis.

Feng Zhongping, vice president of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, pointed out that both China's BRI and the EU's connectivity strategy powerfully demonstrate that the two sides still believe in an open economy and free trade, and support globalization.

"The two sides, by working more closely in connecting Asia and Europe, would make a great contribution for regional peace and prosperity," he said.

Inna Steinbuka, professor with the University of Latvia, noted that the connectivity cooperation between China and EU, two of the biggest traders in the world, will become a new impetus for global partnership. 

In addition to trade, investment and climate change, the EU and China could work closely in many other fields, such as science, research, and innovation, she said.