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EUROPE-CHINA FORUM – Looking forward, looking back

作者:  时间:2015-07-08

  Europe and China are expanding their cooperation into new areas, including the digital sector, infrastructure and the building of smart cities, participants told the Europe-China Forum, set up by Friends of Europe in cooperation with the Chinese Mission to the EU. The Forum was held on June 30, just a day after the official EU-China Summit attended by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

  The focus was on possible synergies between China’s ambitious “One Belt, One Road” initiative and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s investment plan aims to unlock 300 billion euros of investment over three years to create a million jobs in the EU.

  “If we combine the Juncker Plan and One Belt One Road, then I think a free trade agreement could come into effect in 2020,” said Chi Fulin, President of the China Institute for Reform and Development (CIRD). “I think it’s doable if we cooperate carefully. The next five years are a crucial time.” 

  Though EU-China trade is booming, the FTA hoped for by Chi is generally seen as some way off: Europeans want first to secure a better legal framework for investors in China.

  However, while governments talk, the Chinese digital scene is buzzing with new start-ups and products for China’s 640 million netizens. Europeans want a piece of the action, but want also to be involved in the research and rule-making that underpins the sector.

  “We need to have access to standardisation bodies and R&D programmes just like Chinese companies have in Europe,” said Linda Corugedo Steneberg, Principal Adviser at the European Commission Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT). “The only way for any relationship to prevail over the longer term is if there is something in it for both sides.”

  Europe might be able to contribute to another phenomenon sweeping China: urbanisation. The country was overwhelmingly rural a few decades back, but 45% of people in China lived in cities by 2010. That’s projected to reach 60% by 2030, exacerbating a range of challenges from sanitation to the residential status of migrant workers.

  “We are trying to mould a human-centred development for our cities in the future,” said Li Tie, Director General of the China Centre for Urban Development of the NDRC. “We would like to learn from Europe about better governance.” That, he specified, does not mean copying the superficial features of European cities, such as their buildings. “How can we learn the essence and real spirit of city government in Europe? How can we ensure that government will reform at the same time? All these things are crucial.”

  The full report of this debate will be available soon. 

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