Commentary: Common interests far outweigh differences in China-EU relations

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-01 08:36:47|Editor: Hou Qiang
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BRUSSELS, June 1 (Xinhua) -- As the 19th China-European Union (EU) leaders' meeting is drawing near, both sides should grasp this opportunity to cement their strategic ties as their common interests far outweigh differences.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is scheduled to attend an annual meeting in Brussels on June 2, together with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The leaders will hold in-depth exchanges of views on China-EU relations as well as regional and global issues of common concern, Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao said at a press briefing in Beijing on Saturday.

It's no secret that Li's visit came at a time when the two giant economies are wrangling over a disputable surrogate country approach. The EU uses the approach to calculate anti-dumping measures against Chinese exports by referring to prices or costs of similar products in a third country.

Pursuant to relevant WTO rules, the EU is obliged to ditch the approach after Dec. 11, 2016, the day marking China's 15th anniversary of being a WTO member.

It's regretful that the EU, an important rule-maker and champion of free trade, balks at living up to its obligations. To safeguard its own interests, China had no option but to launch dispute settlement procedures at the WTO over the approach.

Having said that, the bickering by no means spells a disaster for the China-EU relations.

Data show that Chinese products targeted by the EU's anti-dumping measures account for only 2 percent of their total trade volume, which in 2016 stood at 547 billion U.S. dollars.

The EU is China's long-standing largest trading partner and China is the EU's second largest. As of March 2017, China's cumulative direct investment in the EU amounted to 73.3 billion dollars, and the EU's cumulative investment in China reached 114.6 billion dollars.

"The development of trade and investment has become the ballast and impetus for the China-EU relations," said Chai Xiaolin, head of economic and commercial counsellor's office of China's mission to the EU.

At a press briefing ahead of the G7 Summit on May 26, Juncker also highlighted the importance of trade for the EU, saying "a third of our national income comes from trade with the rest of the world. It supports one in seven jobs in the EU, and for every 1 billion euros we get in exports, we create 14,000 extra jobs."

There are some 20 million small- and medium-sized enterprises(SMEs) in the EU, most of which hire less than 10 employees. It cannot be overstated that SMEs, many of which boast long histories and top-notch technologies, are vital organs of EU Economy.

Taking note of the remarkable role of SMEs, the Chinese premier is set to attend a China-EU business summit and a signing ceremony of cooperation documents between SMEs.

Undoubtedly, the booming of SMEs will to great extent help extricate the EU from chronic high unemployment rate, particularly among young people.

China, witnessing slowdown in economic growth in recent years, expects that SMEs cooperation would become a new driving force for the China-EU economic relations.

There is no silver bullet for the unavoidable trade spats between China and the EU. However, it's reasonable for them to keep in mind that their common interests far outweigh differences, which helps make right decisions.