China calls for open EU, says investment concerns should be eased

Global Times | 作者: Zhang Hongpei | 时间: 2018-12-20 | 责编: Wang Jiapei
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China hopes the EU will keep an open and fair market environment and that it will take concrete actions to remove the doubts and concerns over Chinese companies, according to a policy paper on the EU released on Tuesday by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The policy paper also said the EU should ease its high-tech export controls toward China, and ensure that its trade remedy legislation and practices are in line with WTO rules.

"It is necessary for China to issue such a policy paper at this moment as the economic environment for both the EU and China has changed a lot over the past four years," said Cui Hongjian, director of EU Studies at the China Institute of International Studies.

China is now facing a new round of reform and opening-up and the EU is taking more steps toward integration. "Given the changes, the paper clearly illustrates China's policy goals regarding the EU in the new era," Cui told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The Chinese government previously issued policy papers on the EU in 2003 and 2014, providing important guidance for the development of 
China-EU relations.

Li Yong, a senior research fellow at the China Association of International Trade, told the Global Times Tuesday that the new policy paper offers a positive signal for enhancing mutual trust between China and the EU by clarifying China's stance on trade and other issues.

"Although the EU side might not agree with some of the points, it is beneficial for bilateral understanding and communication amid the complex international trade environment," Li noted. 

The EU appears to be wary of Chinese investment in its member countries in sectors such as infrastructure and high technology, and the bloc has had complaints over its firms' access to the market in China as well as intellectual property protection.

Germany is reportedly making foreign investment in its strategically important sectors more difficult.

The German government has proposed tightening its national security review of investment from outside the EU by lowering the review threshold from a 25 percent stake in a German company to 10 percent, local newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Sunday.

In November, the EU provisionally agreed on rules for a far-reaching system to coordinate scrutiny of foreign investment in Europe, notably from China. The European Parliament will vote on the proposal in February or March, according to a Reuters report.

"The EU has insisted on equality and fairness from China. But we have to see that the two entities have had different development paths - it is not reasonable for the EU to hold China to exactly the same standards," Cui noted.

The policy paper said that China will "significantly ease market access, fully implement the system of pre-establishment national treatment and a negative list in order to foster a stable, fair, transparent, law-based and predictable business environment." 

Meanwhile, noting the higher requirements made by the EU General Data Protection Regulation for privacy protection and data security in Europe, the paper said that the regulation will not affect normal business interactions between the two sides.

Opportunities ahead

The EU has been China's largest trading partner for the last 14 years and China is the EU's second-largest trading partner. Bilateral trade has seen rapid growth, exceeding $610 billion in 2017.

Cui said China-EU relations will see more cooperation and also more competition. "The EU has felt mounting pressure from China's manufacturing sector, which is undergoing an upgrade," he noted.

According to Li, as major contributors to world multilateralism and economic globalization, China and the EU share common interests in promoting global prosperity and sustainable development, making the two sides indispensable partners for each other.

"There are broad prospects for cooperation and trade expansion in the future and the two sides have accumulated related experience in solving differences and marching forward," Li said.



Source: Global Times, December 18, 2018.