EU and China want to build "strong multilateralism"

China – Statements by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, at his joint press conference with Mr Xi Jinping, President of China, Mrs Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, and Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission (excerpts)

Paris, 26 March 2019

(…)

EU/China

First of all, on behalf of us all, I want to thank President Xi Jinping for agreeing to take part in this discussion during a bilateral visit. Indeed, dialogue between China and Europe has become crucial in order to determine the global power balance and protect multilateralism, especially in the context we’re familiar with and an unprecedented crisis in our recent history.

For the past hour and a bit, the four of us have just had a very fruitful and very free discussion about these issues, touching not only on the bilateral relationship between China and the European Union but also on our views about multilateralism, and from our very constructive discussions four basic points of agreement stand out for me.

Multilateralism

The first is the need to build, together, strong multilateralism in terms of peace and international security. And I have to say that real work is being done between China and the European Union – work that has been done, for example, to maintain the 2015 agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme. We have the same common outlook when it comes to ensuring the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, in accordance with the Security Council resolutions, and we also want to work together along these lines in order to do more in terms of development and security on the African continent, where Europe and China have a strong presence.

Climate

The second point of agreement is about building this strong multilateralism on the climate issue. Indeed, we have to address this emergency. The United Nations Secretary-General has written a few words to us to emphasize this climate agenda, which he’s made central to the ambitions of this September’s summit in particular. Together we very clearly have the means to take action. We were able to provide the G20 with impetus to adopt the Paris Agreement’s implementation rules. We must now move up a gear, and the agreement signed bilaterally between China and France, made public this morning, is an extremely strong step forward on the issue. I really want to thank President Xi Jinping for the clear indications he’s giving on China’s ambitions in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and in terms of the desire to take very practical action on issues such as development finance and implementing the Kigali Amendment on HFCs, which is a point and an essential battle we want to fight together, precisely so as to abide by our international climate commitments. The European Union will also be active in ensuring this very leadership, but for me this climate agenda, together with the issues of security and peace, is an extremely crucial factor in this strong multilateralism which we very much believe in and which we’ve just talked about.

Trade and development

The third point of agreement is the need for the partnership between China and Europe to exemplify the spirit of cooperation that multilateralism embodies and, ultimately, to build what we’ve described as strategic trust between us. We discussed at length issues of partnership, friendship and rivalry which exist and which are part of the very universe we’re moving forward in, but our desire is to have an agenda of strategic trust. Together with China, the European Union is one of the world’s three major economic hubs. In this regard, the opening of the European market has supported China’s spectacular emergence, which has taken 700 million people out of poverty. At the same time, this considerable progress has created profound transformations and tensions in our societies. We’ve experienced this, we’re aware of them, with imbalances that have emerged in terms of production or economic and social consequences, and deep-seated tensions giving rise to a legitimate need for protection. I think our shared desire is to prevent the response to these tensions from being a fragmentation of the international trade system, a new trade belligerence, or policies of isolation and self-absorption.

What we want is to build together an updated multilateral framework that is fairer and more balanced and, at the very time when the European Union is one of the world’s most open economies, work together in the coming days at the European Union-China summit, with the Osaka G20 summit meeting date and in the coming months, on a joint agenda for modernizing trade multilateralism, so as to build new forms of fair competition and precisely this new equilibrium, in our common interest and that of the planet. So in this regard we must speed up the work currently being done between China and the European Union on modernizing the WTO to better address, in a cooperative framework, issues of transparency, overcapacity, state subsidies and dispute resolution. We have the desire, we talked about it at length, and the challenge is also to demonstrate in practice that cooperation brings more than confrontation and that we have more to gain from openness than being closed off.

There too, the partnership between Europe and China can and must be exemplary, leading to tangible results at the forthcoming European Union-China summit, in particular on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment and [an agreement] on Geographical Indications.

And the fourth key area of agreement in our discussion, for me, is the need to step up our dialogue for a common vision of multilateralism’s future, through initiatives carried out on both sides. Indeed, China currently plays a role that reflects its rank and power, and the Belt and Road Initiative you’ve proposed to the world, Mr President, is an extremely formative gesture that can contribute to stability, development and peaceful coexistence between peoples.

For its part, the European Union, which is the world’s largest provider of development assistance, must also play its full role on the international stage, and I think that by coordinating these initiatives we can build something extremely innovative and formative. Indeed, we must succeed in identifying – and I believe in this possibility – a common agenda precisely of connectivity, where we can build infrastructure and facilities, honour our climate commitments and do so very scrupulously, have extremely strong education and health policies, and have a financial sustainability agenda for all the third countries that are partners in these initiatives.

Ultimately, if we respect this joint framework we talked about a great deal this morning, I believe we can not only take many countries and peoples out of poverty and help them but also do so extremely inclusively and sustainably. (…)

We respect China and we’re determined to engage in dialogue and cooperation, and we obviously expect our major partners, too, to respect both the European Union’s unity and the values it upholds for itself and in the world. (…)./.

Published on 05/04/2019

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