‘No fundamental conflict of interest’ between China and EU, says ambassador

China’s ambassador to the EU said China and the EU should join forces to support the World Health Organization | John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images

Recent developments in the EU are more worrying than in China, diplomat says.

China and the EU should not view each other as systemic rivals but concentrate on improving their relationship, China’s ambassador to the EU said.

Speaking at a debate organized by the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) Thursday morning, Zhang Ming rejected the idea that recent problems in the China-EU relationship were caused by Beijing.

The coronavirus pandemic has “generated new challenges and opportunities to the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership,” he said, adding that he hoped an EU-China summit next week would result in “more productive and substantive relations.”

On global health, the ambassador said China and the EU should join forces to support the World Health Organization.

“We are of the view that there is no fundamental conflict of interest between China and the EU,” he said, insisting that neither side should “view cooperation through a geopolitical lens or go so far as to question and misjudge the other’s strategic intention.”

The ambassador also dismissed the idea that the EU’s and China’s economies could become less dependent on each other.

“We need to strengthen cooperation in emerging areas such as green development and [the] digital economy to accelerate the shift of the growth model,” he said.

Next week’s summit should “send a strong signal” that both sides reject unilateralism, the ambassador said, adding that China remains committed to opening up and safeguarding “the multilateral trading system with the [World Trade Organization] at the core.”

Challenged over China’s issues when it comes to opening up its economy, the ambassador threw the ball back into Brussels’ court, saying that China may not always move fast enough but does always move in the right direction: “Looking at the recent developments on the EU’s part, the most worrying thing is the direction.”

“Between direction and speed, of course direction is much more important than speed,” he said.



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