BEIJING, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Brussels on Sunday for his first gathering with new EU leaders and the 17th China-EU leaders' meeting.
The following is a review of the development of China-EU ties over the past 40 years.
On May 6, 1975, China established diplomatic relations with the European Economic Community (EEC), a precursor to the European Union (EU), and set up a Chinese mission to the organization in Brussels in September.
Since then, the bilateral relationship has realized comprehensive progress, and the two sides have established effective mechanisms of leaders' meetings, high-level strategic dialogues, trade-economic talks and people-to-people exchanges.
On Nov. 1, 1983, China established formal relations with the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Atomic Energy Community, which, together with the EEC, constituted the European Communities (EC), the first of the three pillars of the EU.
Up to that time, China and the EC realized the establishment of full diplomatic relations. In 1988, the EC Council set up a delegation in China.
In April 1998, the first China-EU summit took place in London, and the two sides agreed to build and develop a long-term and stable constructive partnership oriented towards the 21st century and institutionalize an annual leaders' meeting mechanism.
In September 2001, the fourth China-EU summit was held in Brussels, during which the two sides decided to establish a comprehensive partnership.
In October 2003, the sixth China-EU summit was convened in Beijing, after which the two sides decided to upgrade the relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
In November 2007, the 10th China-EU summit was held in Beijing, during which the two sides agreed to further enhance political dialogue and consultation at all levels and set up a vice-premier-level dialogue mechanism on trade and economy.
In 2010, China and the EU successfully held their first high-level strategic dialogue, and the mutual strategic trust was further consolidated.
In March 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the EU headquarters, during which China and the EU agreed to deepen their partnership for peace, growth, reform and civilization.
ECONOMIC AND PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE COOPERATION
In the past 40 years, bilateral trade and economic ties have also witnessed rapid progress.
The EU has been China's biggest trade partner for 11 years in a row, and China has been the EU's second largest for 12 consecutive years. Last year two-way trade surpassed 600 billion U.S. dollars.
So far EU investment in China has added up to nearly 100 billion dollars, and China's cumulative investment in the EU has now exceeded 50 billion dollars. In 2014, Chinese enterprises invested more in the EU than their EU counterparts did in China.
Bilateral people-to-people exchanges have also yielded fruitful results. The two sides have set up such cooperation mechanisms as the China-EU forum and the China-EU cultural summit.
In 2011, the China-EU Year of Youth was launched with all-round youth exchange activities throughout the year.
In February 2012, the China-EU Year of Intercultural Dialogue was launched in Brussels to further boost mutual understanding and cultural cooperation.
In addition, the China-EU cultural summit has been successfully held for four consecutive years since October 2010, and the high-level dialogue mechanism on people-to-people exchanges has also achieved positive progress since the first meeting in April 2012.
Official data show that China and the EU have more than 5.5 million of their people traveling between the two sides and nearly 300,000 students study in each other's schools every year.