With an “up-ended” global order that has pitched the world into a maelstrom of uncertainty, there’s perhaps a sharper focus than usual on the upcoming 20th EU-China summit, being held this month in Beijing. With this and another key July meeting – involving China and the ‘16+1’ Central and Eastern European countries – set to shape the next phase in this multi-faceted relationship, Friends of Europe hosted the roundtable discussion “Europe, China and a changed global order” on 2 July to discuss the hopes, expectations and challenges ahead.
The summit comes at a crucial time in which we face a “global diplomacy deficit,” according to Shada Islam, Director of Europe & Geopolitics at Friends of Europe, not least with US President Donald Trump up-ending the international multi-lateral rules-based order in myriad ways. In spite of the uncertain times, however, Zhang Ming, Ambassador of China to the EU, assured participants that China is committed to extending its cooperation with Europe, and highlighted the role that China-EU relations could play in stabilising this changing world.
He and Gunnar Wiegand, Managing Director for Asia and Pacific at the European External Action Service (EEAS) Directorate for Asia and the Pacific, went on to note that some of the key issues to come up at the Summit will include navigating the complex – some say unbalanced – economic relationship; achieving goals on climate change and sustainable development; working together on foreign policy issues like Iran and the Korean peninsula; and finding synergies in how we progress global connectivity and prosperity, including via China’s game-changing Belt and Road Initiative.
In all of this, the true success of both the Summit and future cooperation between China and the EU will be measured by the ability to move from words to action.