“Thank you very much, especially for your hospitality. Premier Li, I am very pleased to meet with you again for the 18th EU-China Summit! It is not the first time we meet but it is our first meeting here in Beijing.
Today’s meeting gives us the opportunity to demonstrate the strength of our Strategic Partnership. Especially in these testing times, as EU and China have both a stake in each other’s success.
The European Union welcomes China’s Presidency of the G20 this year. You can count on the EU to play a constructive role towards achieving a successful summit in Hangzhou. As two of the largest economies in the world, the EU and China have an important stake, as well as responsibility, in ensuring the growth and stability of the global economy.
The European Union looks forward to closely work with China to resolve international conflicts and address foreign policy priorities. We have to employ all existing channels in both the bilateral and in multilateral contexts, such as the United Nations and the G20. Building on the positive experience of the Iran nuclear talks, we are confident there is much we can contribute to peace and prosperity around the world, especially in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Africa.
The same goes for global issues, like migration, international development assistance, the environment and fighting climate change. These are challenges that can only be resolved through a global response. For this reason, a collaborative EU-China relationship is crucial.
We came here to discuss common challenges, and to do so in a friendly manner. One of those is the protection of the rule-based international order. This may be the biggest challenge ahead of us. It is both in the Chinese and European interest to protect international cooperation based on common rules.
Let me just name one example: Globalisation. It brings so many benefits to our nations. Unfortunately, more and more people feel that it is happening without rules. And if we let these feelings grow, if many start believing that globalisation and international trade are happening without or against common rules, then the first victims will be the Chinese and European economies, not to mention people. That is why we are so openly raising these issues, because we believe a frank discussion is in our mutual interest.
As in every mature partnership we may sometimes have differences of opinion. And being able to discuss these differences openly is part of the strength of our relationship. This is the case, for example, with our discussion on human rights and the rule of law. I stress the importance for the European Union of the freedom of the press, the freedom of expression, association and assembly, including for minorities. I hope that the next session of the human rights dialogue will take place in November in Brussels.
Finally, on the South China Sea we will see an important ruling today. Therefore let me repeat this: The rule-based international order is in our common interest and both China and the EU have to protect it, as this is in our people’s best interest.
I am pleased, Mr Premier, that we have this timely opportunity to address our substantial common agenda. Today’s summit should send a message to our people and to the rest of the world of our joint commitment to our Strategic Partnership. Thank you.”