After the honeymoon is over, the reality sets in
Updated: 2014-03-24 07:34
By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Klaus Ebermann says in the next decade there will be as much competition as there is collaboration between the EU and China. Fu Jing / China Daily
Former EU envoy sees relations with the Chinese maturing well
Klaus Ebermann, the former European Union ambassador to China, says that he senses China's efforts to improve ties between China and the European Union, which he believes will be boosted when President Xi Jinping visits the trading bloc.
In the next 10 years there will be as much competition as there is collaboration between the EU and China, something that is normal, he says. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We have just got to do it."
During his state visit to Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands, Xi is due to visit the EU headquarters in Brussels, a first for a Chinese president.
Ebermann, now an academic, says Xi's visit is another great boost to bilateral relations after both sides held a summit in Beijing last November, the 16th since 1998. The next will take place in Brussels this year.
"So we have a lot of reasons to have a rosy picture of our relations because new political will has been injected," Ebermann says. "We are notorious, in the positive sense, for trading and technology and knowledge, which is exactly what China needs. So it's a fruitful relationship."
Ebermann says he has become more critical since quitting his job as a diplomat and public servant. But he still believes the China-EU 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation signed at the summit in November is generally positive.
"I take a more critical view as an academic," he says.
At the summit four areas of collaboration were identified: peace and security, prosperity, sustainable development and people-to-people exchanges.
"We are each other's largest or second-largest trade partner," Ebermann says. "It's a win-win document and both sides have interests in such a time frame."
However, how to implement such an ambitious agenda is still a challenge, he says. Since 2003 when both sides agreed to set up a comprehensive strategic partnership, both have organized summits. There are about 60 platforms for official dialogue, although not all are active.
"The annual summits are good and there will be more," Ebermann says.