China-EU Relations

Focus

EU and China to fight financial crisis

30.01.09 @ 14:53

  1. By Andrew Willis

BRUSSELS - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao have pledged to co-operate on tackling online piracy, climate change and the financial crisis, with a new EU-China summit envisaged for April.

  • EU-China co-operation is crucial to solving current financial problems, said Mr Barroso (Photo: EUobserver.com)

"It is a strategic priority of the Chinese government to develop relations with the EU and we are firm and steadfast in that commitment," said Mr Wen, following a meeting between the two sides in Brussels on Friday (30 January).

The Chinese premier announced the two sides had agreed to hold high-level trade and economy talks in April and confirmed that a new summit date would be shortly agreed.

Beijing cancelled a summit scheduled between the two sides late last year in protest at France – then holding the EU presidency – receiving Tibet's exiled leader, the Dalai Lama.

Friday's meeting resulted in the signing of nine co-operation agreements.

Chief amongst these from a European perspective is an agreement to strengthen protection of intellectual property rights, an issue of particular importance to EU businesses currently suffering high levels of piracy in China.

Morning discussions were dominated by finding solutions to the current financial crisis.

"We have agreed to increase our dialogue on macroeconomic issues," said Mr Barroso, and he welcomed China's involvement in the G20 talks being held on 2 April in London.

Asked what action he intended to take to help volatility in the foreign exchange markets, Mr Wen said China would continue to follow its currency strategy as laid out in its 2005 reform.

"Our policy in this reform is to have a multi-based managed and floating exchange rate regime with reference to a basket of currencies," he said.

"Since the reform launched in 2005 the renminbi has appreciated 20 percent against the US dollar in actual terms. We believe maintaining the stability of the Chinese currency …will play a positive role in stabilizing international finance and economy," he continued.

The two sides will also discuss climate change on Friday.

"Europe and China can work together to achieve success at the Copenhagen summit later this year," said Mr Barroso, referring to international talks in December on an environment agreement for post 2012.

As protests took place outside the commission's main building in Brussels, Mr Barroso confirmed the two sides had discussed the issues of human rights and Tibet, saying they had held "frank and open discussions based on mutual respect."

"With reform and opening up in the last three decades, China is open on many major issues," said Mr Wen.

"We always believe in mutual respect and complete equality and I believe on that basis anything can be discussed," he continued.