Cooperation, competition and the search for common ground

28 November 2018 - 09:30 - 13:30
Maja Bakran Marcich, Chi Fulin, Shada Islam, Yu Jie, Jo Leinen, Xi Liang, Maria Martin-Prat, Andrejs Pildegovičs, Jiang Ruiping, Astrid Skala-Kuhmann, Karmenu Vella, Chang Xiuze, Wang Yao

Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of China’s opening up, the 8th edition of Friend's of Europe's Europe-China Forum will be held on 28 November. 

Participants and high-level European and Chinese speakers will look at Europe-China relations in the context of the myriad opportunities and challenges to come – opportunities to move ever closer in their cooperation on issues like the energy transition and more inclusive connectivity projects, as well as ways to overcome challenges posed by trade and investment. As they seek to reach common ground, leaders of both have tough questions to answer: 

  • After 40 years of reform, are China’s markets an open or shut case for European exporters?
  • Can there be real synergies between the BRI and the EU’s connectivity blueprint? 
  • What can China and Europe do jointly to encourage the development of green tech and clean energy?  

The Forum will be preceded on 27 November by the invitation-only Policy & Practice Roundtable.

The Europe-China Forum and Policy & Practice Roundtable are joint initiatives of Friends of Europe and the Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the EU, aimed at promoting greater Europe-China engagement and cooperation, and bring together policymakers, business representatives and leading academics from across Europe and China to discuss issues of shared interest and address pressing common challenges.

Interested in learning more?


Welcome and registration of participants



China’s forty-year old economic journey of growth and development remains unparalleled. The historic decision taken four decades ago to engage in wide-ranging market reform and open up the country to foreign competition has transformed China’s economic – and societal – landscape, putting the country among the world’s top three economies. Foreign exporters and investors have been active participants in China’s growth trajectory and EU-China trade and investment flows have remained buoyant over the years. Today, European companies are demanding more ambitious market liberalization and reforms in China and the EU is calling for reciprocity and openness in China’s approach to foreign investments. Recent Chinese moves to further open up the market will add to China’s attraction as an export and investment destination, but as the trade war between the US and China escalates, the case remains that the full potential of the EU-China economic relationship is left untapped. 

  • With the multilateral trading system under strain following the US decision to impose punitive tariffs on foreign steel, how can China and Europe work together and learn from each other to prevent a damaging slide into protectionism?
  • How close are China and the EU to concluding a Bilateral Investment Treaty and could such a deal – or Chinese demands for an EU-China free trade agreement - ease European concerns over the rise in Chinese investments in Europe?
  • Which are the priority sectors for European and Chinese companies - and what are their key concerns - as they seek to step up their presence in each other’s markets? 

Speakers include:
Chi Fulin, President of the China Institute for Reform and Development (CIRD)
Jo Leinen, Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with the People's Republic of China 
Maria Martin-Prat, Director, Services and Investment, Intellectual Property and Public Procurement in the European Commission Directorate General for Trade
Yu Jie, Research Fellow in the Asia-Pacific Program at Chatham House

Moderated by:
Shada Islam, Director of Europe and Geopolitics at Friends of Europe


Coffee break



Launched in 2013, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is never far from the headlines. The EU’s connectivity blueprint adopted in September 2018 has meanwhile set out the Union’s own ambitions and conditions for increasing connections between Europe and Asia. Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised important development gains for all countries along the route, saying the new connections will boost trade, cut transport costs and upgrade environmental and digital connections. The EU’s connectivity strategy, meanwhile, sets clear guidelines for ensuring such projects adhere to rules on transparency, sustainability, international labour standards, equal access for all companies and open procurement.  EU governments and businesses have made their interest in the BRI quite clear. As such, the EU and China have an interest in ensuring their respective initiatives work well together, despite different approaches.

  • Can there be real synergies between the BRI and the EU’s connectivity blueprint and if so in which sectors and in which countries?
  • Has China taken any steps to ‘multilateralise’ the BRI and taken on board some of the EU’s comments on lack of transparency, strict procurement rules and equal access to BRI projects?
  • What challenges and opportunities do initiatives like the 16+1 cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European states and the opening of a ‘Polar Silk Road’ or ‘Arctic Corridor’ open for EU-China relations

Speakers include:
Maja Bakran Marcich, European Commission Deputy Director-General for Mobility and Transport 
Koen Doens, European Commission Deputy Director-General for International Cooperation and Development
Jiang Ruiping, Vice-President of China Foreign Affairs University 
Andrejs Pildegovics, Latvian Permanent Representative to the UN and Foreign Affairs State Secretary (2013-2018) 
Astrid Skala-Kuhman, Special Advisor on BRI and Former Country Director for China at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)  

Moderated by:
Shada Islam, Director of Europe and Geopolitics at Friends of Europe



China is stepping up efforts to fight environmental damage and promote what President Xi Jinping has described as an “ecological civilization that ensures harmony between humans and nature”. A new Ministry of Ecology and Environment has been established. And with the creation of a new carbon emissions market, ambitious targets to decarbonize the economy, Beijing is pressing ahead with myriad actions and policies aimed at cracking down on pollution, promoting renewable energies and speeding up technological innovation. Through the “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package and the soon-to-be established 2050 strategy to decarbonise its economy, Europe is also working to ensure a transition to a cleaner, more sustainable and less carbon intensive energy future. Among other measures, new European Commission proposals for the next EU budget foresee an ambitious goal for climate mainstreaming across all EU programmes, with a target of 25 per cent of EU expenditure contributing to the climate change objectives.

  • Given US President Donald Trump’s retreat from the Paris Agreement on climate change, how can China and the EU work together to ensure the success of the COP 24 meeting in Poland?
  • What is the state of play on the EU-China roadmap on energy cooperation?
  • What can China and Europe do jointly to encourage and promote the development of green tech and clean energy?

Speakers include:
Chang Xiuze, Professor at the National Development and Reform Commission’s (NDRC) Academy of Macroeconomic Research
Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries 
Wang Yao, Director General of the Central University of Finance and Economics’ International Institute of Green Finance
Xi Liang, Director of the Centre for Business and Climate Change and Senior Lecturer in Energy Finance at the University Edinburgh

Moderated by:
Shada Islam, Director of Europe and Geopolitics at Friends of Europe


End of summit

Maja Bakran Marcich
European Commission Deputy Director-General for Mobility and Transport
In her current role, Maja Bakran Marcich is responsible for coordinating activities related to investment, as well as innovative and sustainable transport, and has been involved in discussions relating to the EU-China Connectivity Platform. Prior joining the European Commission, she served as Assistant Minister for Europe in the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. Having held numerous posts in the Ministry throughout her career, Bakran Marcich was also responsible for horizontal coordination of the Croatian accession negotiations, as well as for setting up and managing Croatia’s coordination system for European Affairs.
Chi Fulin
President and Chief Researcher of the China Institute for Reform and Development (CIRD)
As President, Chi Fulin leads the CIRD’s efforts to facilitate China’s economic and development policy. He has published over 500 academic papers and is the recipient of numerous awards. Chi was listed in 2009 as one of the ‘100 Economists that have influenced China’s economic construction in the last 60 years. In addition to his role at CIRD, he serves in numerous leadership positions including as Vice-Chairman of the China Society of Economic and Administrative Reform..
Shada Islam
Director Europe & Geopolitics
Shada Islam is responsible for policy oversight of Friends of Europe’s initiatives, activities and publications. She has special responsibility for issues related to the Future of Europe, Migration, the Asia Programme and the Development Policy Forum. Shada is Visiting Professor at the College of Europe (Natolin) where she teaches Asia-Europe relations and has been selected as a fellow by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). She has been named as one of twenty most influential women in Brussels by Politico. Shada is the former Europe correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review and has previously worked on Asian and Migration issues at the European Policy Centre. She is one of the authors of Friends of Europe’s much-read “Frankly Speaking” commentary and is sought after as a speaker, commentator, columnist and moderator at high-level European and global events. Shada also continues to write on EU foreign and security policy, EU-Asia relations and trade and development issues for leading Asian, European and international publications and academic journals.
Yu Jie
Research Fellow in the Asia-Pacific Program at Chatham House
Yu Jie was previously Head of China Foresight at the London School of Economics’ (LSE) foreign policy think tank, LSE IDEAS, where she was recognised as a “Leading Woman”. Prior to joining academia, she specialised in advising on Chinese state-owned enterprise investments in Europe, as well as Chinese market entry strategies for European conglomerates. An expert on China’s foreign and economic diplomacy, Yu contributes frequently to major media outlets and briefs senior policy practitioners, including from the EU institutions, the UK Cabinet Office, the UK House of Commons and the Silk Road Fund in Beijing.
Jo Leinen
Chairman of the Delegation for the relations with China of the European Parliament
A member of the European Parliament for nearly twenty years, Jo Leinen previously served as President of the Constitutional Affairs Committee, Chair of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and took part in the Convention for the Elaboration of a Charter of Fundamental Rights for the EU, before taking up his current role as responsible for relations with China. His work also covers relations between the EU and UN, as well as with the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP). Prior to joining the European Parliament, Leinen was Minister for the Environment in the State Government of Saarland, Germany.
Xi Liang
Director of the Centre for Business and Climate Change and Senior Lecturer in Energy Finance at the University of Edinburgh
Specialised in energy policy, sustainable development and finance, Xi Liang has served as an expert advisor on climate finance to the Chinese government. Prior to his current post, he worked for investment management and advisory firms in China and was principle investigator on climate finance and carbon capture and storage projects with both the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. Xi is currently also Secretary of the China Low-carbon Energy Action Network, and an associate researcher in the Electricity Policy Research Group at the University of Cambridge.  
Maria Martin-Prat
Director, Services and Investment, Intellectual Property and Public Procurement in the European Commission Directorate-General for Trade
In her current position, Maria Martin-Prat is responsible for the areas of services, investment, intellectual property and public procurement, working also as chief negotiator in EU-China investment agreement negotiations. Martin-Prat has long served in the European Commission, formerly holding responsibility for the Copyright Unit in the Directorate-General for Communications, Networks, Content and Technology, as well as for free movement of services and freedom of establishment in the Directorate-General for Internal Market.
Andrejs Pildegovičs
Latvian Permanent Representative to the UN and Foreign Affairs State Secretary (2013-2018)
A sinologist, Andrejs Pildegovičs has more than 20 years of experience in the Latvian Foreign Ministry. Latvia was the first Baltic country to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and is part of the “16+1” group, China’s mechanism for engaging with Central and Eastern Europe. During his time in the Ministry, Pildegovičs has also served as Undersecretary of State and Political Director, Ambassador to the United States and Mexico and Chief of Staff to the President.
Jiang Ruiping
Vice-President of China Foreign Affairs University
Jiang Ruiping is an expert professor whose research covers Japanese economy, China-Japan economic relations, East Asian economic cooperation and international political economy. His many posts include serving as Vice Chairman of the National Association for Japanese Economic Studies and as Vice-President of the East Asian Forum for Peace and Development. He is also a member of the Advisory Committee for Trade at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and of the Advisory Group of East Asian Cooperation at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
Astrid Skala-Kuhmann
Special Advisor on BRI and Former Country Director for China at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Astrid Skala-Kuhmann is an expert in emerging markets and sustainability issues with a focus on China, having served for six years as GIZ’s chief resident representative and country director there. In her current capacity, she advises on matters related to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Skala-Kuhmann is also co-dean for the “Zukunftsbrücke” (Sino-German Young Professional Campus) and a supervisory board member of Lenzing AG and Semperit AG, Austria, both stock-listed with global scopes. 
Karmenu Vella
European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs & Fisheries
In his current role, Karmenu Vella has often engaged with China, most recently by signing a landmark partnership agreement on oceans which includes commitments to both the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and to achieving ocean-related targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. Prior to joining the European Commission, he served as Minister of Malta’s Ministries of Public Works, Industry and Tourism. Vella was elected to the Maltese Parliament in 1976 and was re-elected nine consecutive times.
Chang Xiuze
Professor at the National Development and Reform Commission’s (NDRC) Academy of Macroeconomic Research
Chang Xiuze is a prominent Chinese economist specialised in institutional economics, including theory on people’s development, broad intellectual property theory and China’s transformation. Beyond his work for the NDRC, he is also a research fellow of the National Center for Economic Research at Tsinghua University. A prolific author, he has published 10 books and many academic articles, some of which have been awarded national prizes.
Wang Yao
Director General of the Central University of Finance and Economics’ International Institute of Green Finance
Wang Yao is a distinguished academic, currently serving as a Fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership and as Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern Queensland and University of Victoria. An expert in green finance, climate finance and low carbon economics, Wang is also an expert at the Asian Development Bank and has authored a number of publications on the topics, including Carbon finance: global vision and distribution in China.


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For any inquiries regarding the 28 November Europe-China Forum, please contact: 

Amanda Rohde, Programme Manager
Tel.: +32 2 893 98 11

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