Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (C), European Council President Donald Tusk (L) and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker co-chair the 21st China-EU leaders' meeting in Brussels, Belgium, April 9, 2019. (Xinhua/Liu Weibing)
BRUSSELS, April 9 (Xinhua) -- China and the European Union (EU) on Tuesday reaffirmed in a joint statement the dynamic of their comprehensive strategic partnership, pledging to uphold multilateralism and oppose protectionism.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, President of the European Council Donald Tusk, and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker met here on Tuesday for the 21st China-EU leaders' meeting and issued the statement.
The two sides reiterated their respect for international law and for fundamental norms governing international relations, with the United Nations (UN) at the core.
They commit to upholding the UN Charter and international law, and all three pillars of the UN system, namely peace and security, development and human rights, according to the joint statement.
China and the EU firmly support the rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core, fight against unilateralism and protectionism, and commit to complying with WTO rules, it said.
The two sides reaffirmed their joint commitment to cooperate on WTO reform to ensure its continued relevance and allow it to address global trade challenges. They agreed to intensify discussions to strengthen international rules on industrial subsidies, and continue working to resolve the crisis in the WTO Appellate Body.
They also underlined their support to the G20 in continuing to play its active role as the premier forum in international economic and financial cooperation, and agreed to promote the G20, in the spirit of partnership and the principle of consensus, to make more contributions in upholding multilateralism, improving global economic governance and boosting global economic growth.
Meanwhile, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to building their economic relationship on openness, non-discrimination, and fair competition, ensuring a level playing field, transparency, and based on mutual benefits.
They aim to conclude a comprehensive bilateral investment agreement in 2020.
China and the EU commit to achieve in the course of 2019 the decisive progress required, notably with regard to the liberalization commitments, for the conclusion of an ambitious China-EU Comprehensive Investment Agreement in 2020, said the statement.
The high level of ambition, the statement added, will be reflected in substantially improved market access, the elimination of discriminatory requirements and practices affecting foreign investors, the establishment of a balanced investment protection framework and the inclusion of provisions on investment and sustainable development.
The EU has been China's largest trading partner for 15 years in a row and China has become the EU's second largest trading partner, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.
Official statistics from the ministry show that two-way trade between China and the EU hit a record high of 682.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, up 10.6 percent year-on-year.
"China and the EU commit to ensure equitable and mutually beneficial cooperation in bilateral trade and investment," the statement said, reiterating the two sides' willingness to enhance bilateral economic cooperation, trade and investment, and to provide each other with broader and more facilitated, non-discriminatory market access.
"With this in mind, China and the EU will intensify work towards finding mutually agreeable solutions to a number of key barriers as identified by both parties," the statement said.
They also welcomed progress in cooperation on 5G technology between respective business communities, according to the statement.
"China and the EU welcome progress and further exchanges in the China-EU dialogue and working mechanism on 5G based on the 5G Joint Declaration of 2015, including on technological cooperation between respective business communities," the statement said.
The Chinese premier arrived in Brussels on Monday. It is the first stop of his five-day tour to Europe.
Li arrived in Zagreb on Tuesday evening to pay an official visit to Croatia, where he will also attend the eighth leaders' meeting of China and Central and Eastern European Countries.