By Shada Islam, Head of Policy at Friends of Europe
To gain a better understanding of the European Union’s relations with China, it is necessary to look beyond lofty talk of strategic partnerships and much-publicised irritants in trade and business to the more upbeat reality of EU-China cooperation in areas such as urbanisation and “people-to-people” ties.
The need to engage with China on practical issues is important and will become increasingly so the months ahead. As China heads for a change in leadership and the EU struggles to shift the focus from austerity to economic growth, both sides are likely to become more involved in their internal affairs, with less time for high-level talks and contacts. As such, it will become even more important to keep the EU-China relationship on track by focusing on areas of common interest and concern.
Practical cooperation is no substitute for a truly strategic EU-China partnership. But working together to tackle key common challenges will help to build trust and confidence. Such cooperation will also create new business opportunities for Europe while helping China meet the key development aims and targets set out in the 12th Five Year Plan.
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