Sunday

16th Jan 2022

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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. Ukraine hit by cyber-attack on government websites
  2. Russia threatens military deployment to Cuba, Venezuela
  3. Polish minister warns of risk of war in Europe
  4. French teachers strike against Covid confusion
  5. Denmark warns of increased spying in Arctic
  6. Erdoğan: Turkey 'committed to EU membership'
  7. German court gives Syrian intelligence officer life sentence
  8. EU to impose sweeping sanctions on Mali

Analysis

Europe must stop falling into the ISIS trap

The EU does not need to become a counter-propaganda machine - but finding and providing the right facts will be the only way for Europe to stop falling into ISIS' polarisation trap.

Latest News

  1. MEPs seek probe into EU commissioner over Bosnia
  2. EU's Borrell contradicts Germany on Russia gas pipeline
  3. It's time for a more geopolitical EU-Turkey cooperation
  4. EU gas and nuclear rules derided as 'biggest greenwash ever'
  5. Even without war, Russia has defeated Europe already
  6. Nato and Russia in talks to reopen embassies
  7. Record-breaking Omicron wave sweeps across Europe
  8. EU agency warns ETS emission-cuts are off track

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us