Eastern Promises

China's Stake in a Strong Europe

Li Keqiang_imago_Sven Simon
Li Keqiang.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    China wants to deepen trade and investment ties with Europe despite the euro-zone debt crisis.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The European Union is China’s largest trading partner with a total volume of $600 billion last year.
    • Beijing and Brussels are implementing the China-E.U. 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation which covers 100 different fields.
    • China and the European Union are currently negotiating an investment treaty. Beijing also wants to discuss a free trade agreement.
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  • Audio

    Audio

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While Greece flirts with an exit from the 19-nation euro zone, a move that could plunge the continent into crisis, the Chinese government is banking on deeper economic integration with Europe.

The scope of bilateral investment between two of the world’s largest economic powers is “hardly satisfying” at the moment, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said in an interview with Handelsblatt and seven other European newspapers. The prime minister hopes Brussels and Beijing will agree to more cooperation in areas like infrastructure, industry and science.

His comments in a written interview with European media come ahead of the China-E.U. summit in Brussels this week. Both sides are hoping to use the talks to explore the potential for closer economic and political cooperation.

The Chinese have even dangled the prospect of further opening their markets before European companies. According to China’s prime minister, the summit is about shepherding this cooperation into a new era.

If true, this would be good news for European companies, which have long complained the Chinese market presents major hurdles, such as a requirement to cooperate with local partners when entering certain industries.

The offer of an interview with Handelsblatt and other select European newspapers came via the Chinese embassy. Such a request for a written interview is unusual, but Handelsblatt agreed to the terms. Mr. Li has a lot to say.

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