Li highlights ties during Europe visit
Updated: 2012-05-07 08:06
By Ding Qingfen (China Daily)
Priority of trip was to boost cooperation
Vice-Premier Li Keqiang called attention to the complementary nature of relations between China and the European Union during his recent 10-day official tour of Europe.
"When made-in-China meets designed-in-Europe, and when EU technology meets Chinese markets, the outcome can be wonderful," Li said while visiting EU headquarters in Brussels, the last stop of a visit that also took him through Hungary and Russia.
The priority of Li's visit is to seek new areas for China-EU cooperation, such as urbanization and alternative energy.
During Li's visit, China and the European Union signed a series of agreements related to urbanization and energy.
Li's visit comes at a time when Europe is still struggling to solve debt problems, and many EU nations hope China can help.
"The economic recovery is not only important for the EU but also the whole world, including China," said Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo.
But China has repeatedly insisted that Europe should address existing systemic problems before it provides any aid.
During this visit, Li spent little time discussing aid to the European Union. However, he did point out that China has aided the region over the past two years by importing more goods, investing and buying bonds.
In 2011, Sino-EU trade volume hit a record high of $567 billion, a year-on-year increase of 18.4 percent, according to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce.
In an article in the Financial Times, Li said China will join other nations and institutions to explore solutions to the debt crisis.
His remarks mainly focused on the significance of two-way economic and trade cooperation during the visit, especially with regard to urbanization, new energy and energy conservation.
"Urbanization is the growth engine that has the most lasting effect on the Chinese economy," Li said.
He said urbanization has the most potential to expand China's domestic consumption, a major goal of China's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).
During the visit, the China Investment Corporation and Belgium's Federal Holding and Investment Company signed an agreement to launch the China-Belgium Mirror Fund.
The fund provides a platform for Chinese companies to expand in all 27 member countries of the European Union.
While Li was in Budapest, China and Hungary signed a series of agreements covering agriculture, telecommunications, infrastructure and finance to help China strengthen its presence in Central and Eastern Europe.
Li also expressed concern about the European Union's ban on high-tech exports to China, saying it should loosen the restrictions as soon as possible, which could help the region resolve debt problems and create benefits for both sides.
Li's trip to Russia - the first stop of the tour - is also expected to have a long-lasting effect on bilateral ties. Li spent more time in Russia than in the other two nations.
Despite Europe's debt woes, China-Russia trade surged 42.7 percent from a year earlier to $79.25 billion in 2011, outperforming the 22.4 percent average growth of China's foreign trade during the same period, according to the General Administration of Customs.
During the China-Russia Trade and Investment Promotion Forum held in Moscow, the two nations signed 27 cooperative agreements worth $15 billion in the sectors of energy, equipment, information technology and finance.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is due to take office as president in May, and he plans to officially visit China in June.
Trade and cooperative agreements are only one part of Li's visit, and the other part is a cultural exchange between Li and the Russian people.
Li met with China-Russia friendship representatives as well as students from Moscow State University and Russian World War II veterans.
China and Russia have set up a strategic partnership in all aspects, Li said.
"I believe the cooperation between the two countries could reach a new high as there is a wide range of areas that we could jointly develop," Li said during his meeting with Putin.
Li depicted Russia and China as "good neighbors, good friends and good partners".
"In such a large-scale cooperation between the two sides, there are many issues that need our attention, but there are not substantial problems between China and Russia," Putin said.
"We have learned to treat each other as good friends when we jointly deal with the problems."
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