From Switzerland’s small mountain town of Davos, to Germany’s port city of Hamburg, Chinese President Xi Jinping attended two international conferences this year held in Europe, a continent with a growing focus on China.
Under the theme “Responsive and Responsible leadership,” the annual World Economic Forum, with the attendance of thousands of elites from around the world, invited Xi to deliver a keynote speech in mid January, during which he put forward China’s understanding of globalization and its plan to solve global economic problems.
In his visit to the United Nations Office at Geneva shortly afterwards, Xi gave a speech titled “Building a Community of Shared Future for Mankind.” At the Palace of Nations, Xi expounded China’s understanding on how to jointly build a community of shared future for mankind, a centerpiece of China’s foreign policy.
Several European television stations broadcast the two speeches live. Public opinion in Europe described the speeches as a strong, warm front that dispelled the cold air out of the Alps.
Six months later, while attending the 12th Group of Twenty summit in Hamburg, Xi was once again praised for his proposals to create a more open world economy and strengthening global economic governance.
Analysts attributed Europe’s high attention to Xi’s speeches to three basic facts — as a major country in the world, China has plenty to offer for the development of the global economy; its strong growth over the past few decades has been a source of development for humanity; and Chinese wisdom in approaching global problems has provided a new perspective on world affairs.
In recent years, Europe has struggled to overcome its weak economic growth, surging anti-globalization and populism, and frequent terrorist attacks, among others.
Against this backdrop, China proposed its plan of a “Community of Shared Future for Mankind” and the Belt and Road Initiative, both of which have strongly resonated in Europe.
As China comes closer to the center stage in global affairs, Europe is becoming increasingly aware that Beijing will bring great opportunities to its development.
Taking trade as an example, China is now the European Union’s second largest trade partner, second only to the United States; however, the EU’s trade with China is expected to surpass that of the United States in the near future.
As the Belt and Road Initiative gains more popularity in Europe, Chinese investment has become another engine for the continent’s economic recovery and development.
In November this year, China signed memorandums of understanding with Estonia, Lithuania and Slovenia to promote the initiative, marking a full alignment of all 16 Central and Eastern European countries with the initiative.
The importance attached to China by Europe also stems from the Asian country’s active and constructive role in maintaining world peace and promoting common development. In the field of global governance, China and Europe are a match in many aspects.
A greater engagement from China in world affairs can “open so many opportunities, on so many issues of common interest” between the EU and China, Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign affairs and Security Policy and European Commission Vice President, told Xinhua in an interview.
“If we act together, we can be an irresistible force for a free and fair trade, for multilateralism and sustainable development,” she added.
Nonetheless, Europe has not fully adapted to a world more centered on China as some Europeans still look at Beijing as a threat.
However, the further deepening of China-EU cooperation is unstoppable,thanks to the great opportunities China has brought to Europe as well as the dividends it has delivered to the peace and development of the region – and the world – at large.