China and Europe are partners not rivals, says Chinese FM

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Brussels, Dec 17 (IANS) China and Europe are partners, not rivals, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a speech here on Monday.

“In recent years, we have heard an argument suggesting that China has become a rival of Europe in the economic field and should be subjected to all sorts of restrictions,” Wang said while speaking at an event hosted by the European Policy Center, a think tank, the Xinhua news agency reported.

“Although it is not the mainstream view, we must raise our vigilance and not allow it to go unchecked. In fact, any cool-headed person with an objective view will see that, for China and the EU, cooperation far outweighs competition, and our areas of consensus far exceed differences. We are partners, not rivals,” he said.

Over the years, Europe has benefited tremendously from cooperation with China, Wang said.

Between 2001 and 2018, EU’s exports to China grew by 14.7 per cent on average each year, more than twice the EU’s average export growth, supporting about four million local jobs. Investment of Chinese companies in the EU has also been growing. As of the end of 2017, Chinese companies have set up over 2,900 ventures in EU countries through direct investment, creating 1,76,000 jobs for the local people, according to Wang.

Acquisition of Volvo by China’s automaker Geely injected new energy to the Volvo factory in Ghent, Belgium, retaining and creating over 6,000 jobs, said the senior Chinese official, noting that China is now the most profitable market for European companies — as many as 7 million cars, or nearly a quarter of all automobiles sold in China, are produced by European auto-makers.

Wang said that despite trade friction and the world economy in downward pressure, economic and trade cooperation between China and the EU has bucked the trend and kept growing.

He pointed out that in the first 11 months of this year, trade between China and the EU, according to statistics, was estimated to grow by 7.7 per cent from last year. From January to July, EU investment in China was up by 18.3 per cent year on year, and sixty percent of EU companies regard China as a leading destination of investment.

China, as a major developing country with some 1.4 billion people, a 900-million-strong labour force and 120 million market entities, has solid internal growth momentum, great resilience, and enormous economic potential, said Wang, adding that China is bound to offer a new round of cooperation opportunities and share the development dividend with countries in Europe.

–IANS

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