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November 24, 2016

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Schroeder highlights China’s importance

THE 7th Hamburg Summit “China Meets Europe” opened in the northern German city yesterday, drawing senior officials, entrepreneurs and scholars from China and the European Union to discuss key issues in China-Europe economic relations.

In his opening speech, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said China is of special importance to Germany and the whole of Europe, adding that the two countries had built a very successful partnership over the past four decades.

He said Germany continues to be China’s most important partner in Europe and had opted for political cooperation with China in recent decades.

“Cooperation, rather than confrontation, should characterize the relationships between countries, even when their political and economic systems differ,” Schroeder said in his speech.

In today’s world, there is no country that can master all these new challenges alone, he said.

“This is why we must intensify the strategic partnership with China in all areas, in politics and culture, as well as in economy and civil society.”

The two-day summit will focus on topics such as Brexit, China’s economic transition, the Belt and Road Initiative and boosting efficiency in industrial manufacturing.

In his speech, Fritz Melsheimer, president of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, called for an investment treaty between the EU and China within the next year to put bilateral economic relations on a more solid legal basis.

“China has to master a tremendous economic transformation to make this growth more sustainable,” he said. “At the same time, economic stagnation in many European countries and United Kingdom’s vote for Brexit both shake and shape our bilateral economic relations.”

Face-to-face exchanges and open discussions were therefore particularly important, he said.

Despite the backdrop of a sluggish global economic recovery, China-EU economic and trade relations have deepened through the concerted efforts of both sides, said Li Yizhong, chairman of the China Federation of Industrial Economics in his opening speech.

As two pillars of the global economy, China-EU cooperation had great potential to bring out the best in both sides, he said.

Despite a downturn in global trade, Europe sees services as a driving force for economic growth, said Zhao Zhongyi, executive vice president of the China Association for Trade in Services. China and Europe had great potential for cooperation in this field, he said.


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