Today, on the second day of her visit to Beijing, High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini co-chaired the annual EU-China Strategic Dialogue alongside the Chinese State Councillor, Yang Jiechi. The Strategic Dialogue, which comes in preparation of the EU-China Summit, to be held in Brussels in June, was an opportunity for Mogherini and Councillor Yang to discuss their cooperation on the many international issues and global crises that the world currently faces, as well as bilateral relations.
Reflecting the breadth and depth of the EU-China Strategic Partnership, discussions at the Dialogue ranged from the rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula – where both China and the European Union support the urgent objectives of de-nuclearisation, de-escalation of tensions and a return to dialogue – to the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, where the HRVP and the State Councillor underlined their “strong determination to have all elements of the JPCOA fully implemented […] as a key pillar for arms control and the nuclear non-proliferation regime”. They committed to continuing to work together within the Joint Commission chaired by the HR/VP, in which China “is an active, constructive and very valued member”.
Mogherini and Councillor Yang had lengthy discussions on the war in Syria, where the EU’s priority is to bring an end to conflict. The two discussed ways to actively support the UN-led process while working to improve the humanitarian access into the country. Mogherini said: “We share the assessment that the process has to be political, that all parties have to engage, and that on the use of chemical weapons we need a clear investigation […] Only once a credible political transition will be underway will we mobilise the necessary resources to help the Syrians on the reconciliation and the reconstruction, as we affirmed together during the Brussels conference we hosted on the future of Syria and the region at the beginning of April, also together with the UN Secretary General António Guterres.”
Also discussed was the need to mobilise international support for a peace process in Afghanistan, the crisis in Libya, Africa – where potential was identified for increased cooperation – and matters of security and defence, where Mogherini spoke about “creating further opportunities [for the EU and China]to work together on challenges related to peacekeeping, counter-piracy and counter-terrorism”.
As global powers, the European Union and China “have a joint responsibility to work together towards a more cooperative, rules-based global order”, said Mogherini. She pointed to the Agreements achieved in Paris on climate change and in New York on the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as to support to the World Trade Organisation to avoid any protectionist policy or action as three areas where China and the European Union need to work closely together to guarantee that the world order is sustained.
On the bilateral agenda, Mogherini conveyed the European Union’s concerns about human rights in China and highlighted the importance of a frank and constructive dialogue as the best way to address all issues. She highlighted the intention to launch talks on visa facilitation and tackling irregular migration, to strengthen infrastructure links via the EU-China Connectivity Platform, and to make substantial progress on the negotiation of a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment. As one of the world’s biggest trade and investment relationships, Mogherini recalled Chinese President Xi Jinping’s commitments to free trade, multilateralism and sustainable development, and reiterated that the EU and China “must work together not only to uphold but to promote the rules-based international system which underpins our common prosperity and security”.
The High Representative and the State Councillor shared a similar final assessment: “Of an extremely positive state of play of our relationship; of an extremely positive agenda for this visit, for this strategic dialogue; and a good basis for the preparation of our upcoming summit.”