After the honeymoon is over, the reality sets in

Updated: 2014-03-24 07:34

By Fu Jing (China Daily)

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After the honeymoon is over, the reality sets in

As one who regards himself as a skeptical optimist, he thinks the problem is that the dialogue is piecemeal.

"There is a lot of substance that forms the strategic dialogue. But that requires two things. First you need to get away from fragmentation; you have to see the whole picture. And, most important of all, you have to build it on mutual trust and mutual respect."

When Ebermann was the EU's ambassador in Beijing more than 10 years ago, the relationship between the two sides was extremely cordial. Brussels supported Beijing's admission to the World Trade Organization. In more recent times the two have sometimes been at loggerheads, particular because the EU has resisted China's push to be recognized as a market economy.

Nevertheless, Ebermann says trust between the two has improved as they have got to know one another better.

"During my time there was a special period - I would call it a honeymoon - because the EU stood very much for trade and economic relations and less for political issues."

Negotiations for China's accession to the WTO were extremely difficult, he says. "But this process helped the machineries come to know each other extremely well."

There was close cooperation between China and Europe in trade matters, WTO matters, economic affairs, science and technologies, he says.

"I am talking about broad trust. For me a strategic partnership requires broad trust and respect, not just in technical matters such as trade. It should go much beyond that."

Considering the proliferation of agreements now in force in Asia and worldwide, Ebermann thinks trade agreements, bilateral or regional, will always be a second-best solution.

"The best solution is a kind of Doha Round development agenda including trade, agriculture and development. I would like to see a much higher profile, visibility and commitment of the EU in these questions.

"For me, a strategic relationship is our starting point and would have to encompass such broader thinking, more ambitious thinking, the vision thing, not just a short-term act."

He also points to the cultural differences between the EU and China.

After the honeymoon is over, the reality sets in

After the honeymoon is over, the reality sets in

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