Friday

13th Dec 2019

Focus

MEPs and China mark change in relationship

  • If anything, the meetings have helped the two sides to warm to each other (Photo: EUobserver)

With the aim of better understanding each other, members of the five big political groups in the European Parliament have met with members of the one big political group in the National People's Congress of China, in what has been described as a “changing” and "very friendly" climate.

The three-day meeting in Brussels - from Tuesday to Thursday (31 May) - was the third of its kind and brought together two delegations of more than 50 people each, including Wang Jiarui, the head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC), and Martin Schultz, the president of the European Parliament.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The politicians talked about a range of issues, including such hot potatoes as human rights, climate change, trade relations and the situation in Syria. "There was a very intense discussion on human rights [between Schultz and Wang]," German Green MEP Reinhard Butikofer, who chaired the meeting, told EUobserver.

The meeting came one week after MEPs endorsed a resolution condemning China for shielding its rapidly growing domestic market from EU companies, and amid political and economic turmoil both in China and the EU.

China earlier this year lowered its growth expectation for 2012 (from 8 to 7.5 percent) due to falling global demand. Politically, it is preparing for a change of the guards while still licking its wounds after two separate but equally embarrassing events - the spectacular fall of a rising political star and the escape of a blind activist under house arrest. For its part, of course, the EU is in crisis.

But despite the upheaval and intense discussions, relations have never been better, so it seems. "[The crisis] has created more space and opportunity for cooperation," Li Jinjun, vice-minister of the IDCPC, said on Thursday. In his opening speech on Tuesday, Wang called for “a new type of China-EU relationship”, based on “mutual respect” and “common development”.

Participants hailed the annual meetings, dubbed the EU-China High Level Political Parties and Groups Forum, as a binding factor between the two political powerhouses.

“We have strengthened our mutual understanding and trust,” Li said. “The kind of dialogue we have had was unimaginable a few years ago.”

Belgian centre-left MEP Veronique De Keyser, a loyal participant to the forum since the first in May 2010 in Beijing, told EUobserver that, if anything, the meetings have helped the two sides to warm up to each other.

“The climate is changing,” she said. “The tone was very direct, but very friendly. In Beijing, the climate was cold like a fridge.” Butikofer agrees. The atmosphere, he says, “was clearly more open, more candid” than before.

China urges Germany and France to solve euro-crisis

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Thursday offered vague promises to buy bonds from troubled euro-countries, but said that it is ultimately up to Germany and France to solve the crisis.

News in Brief

  1. UK exit poll gives Johnson majority of 86
  2. Orban: 'financial guarantees' to reach climate neutrality
  3. Merkel hopes EU leaders agree 2050 climate-neutrality
  4. Czech PM: nuclear energy needed for climate neutrality
  5. Hungary: Climate target is burden, EU should help
  6. Malta PM urged to step down ahead of EU summit
  7. France rolls out new pension scheme amid protests
  8. Germany accused of aiding war crimes in Yemen

Opinion

Does Malta's Labour Party now belong in S&D?

The Maltese Labour Party is a curious creature. No minister, MEP, MP, president, or former president has yet criticised Joseph Muscat publicly and outright over the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Exclusive

Zahradil 'conflict of interest' over EU-Vietnam trade deal

Right-wing Czech MEP Jan Zahradil is leading European Parliament negotiations on a trade deal with Vietnam. As rapporteur, he is supposed to be neutral but has neglected to declare his involvement in a group with ties to the Communist party.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. EU leaders cagey on 'Future of Europe' conference
  2. Pressure mounts to grill Malta's Muscat at EU summit
  3. Revealed: little evidence to justify internal border checks
  4. Europe needs to make mind up on relations with Africa
  5. Leaders face crucial EU summit for climate action
  6. Leaders to battle on climate target and money at summit
  7. Von der Leyen: 'Green Deal is our man-on-moon moment'
  8. North Atlantic mini states in geopolitical turbulence

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us