Driving the EU-China Strategic Partnership Forward

By Solana, Javier | Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly, October 15, 2005 | Go to article overview

Driving the EU-China Strategic Partnership Forward


Solana, Javier, Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly


Tony Blair, Jose Manuel Barroso and I had excellent meetings yesterday with President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. It would be too much perhaps to say that we saw eye to eye on every issue. But even on the few issues where we disagreed, we had open frank and open exchanges. This is exactly as it should be among close partners.

The last time I was in China for an EU Summit was two years ago. Then, the EU and China launched a strategic partnership. The way our meetings went yesterday proved that we really do have a partnership, which is growing both wider and deeper.

Our goals are converging across a wide range of international subjects. That why it makes sense to intensify our co-operation. Of course, we do also have some differences. But there is a lot more that unites us than divides us.

My aim today is to give you a progress report on the state of our bilateral relationship. But before I do that, perhaps it is worth reminding ourselves why we call this a strategic partnership.

I see two reasons. First, the issues which we discuss together and on which we push action forward are global strategic issues. Issues such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism. Questions such as global security of energy supply, regional crises and the environment.

Second, we are partners with significant global strengths, capabilities and responsibilities. China is rapidly emerging as a world leader and positive actor on the global stage. We in the EU warmly welcome that. The rationale for partnership is easy to state: when we work together, we can achieve big results. And if we also involve other international players, including the US, Canada, India and Japan, we could achieve even more.

The same is true for regional organisations such as Association of SouthEast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the African Union and Mercosur. Today's problems are far too great and too complex for any country to solve alone. International partnerships are essential. This is not a nice sounding diplomatic slogan, but a statement of fact.

Of course, working with other countries and organisations to achieve shared objectives is not always easy. It takes time and entails compromises. It always requires considerable efforts. But the results are worth it. The outcomes are always better than what we could achieve through unilateral action.

Multilateralism and respect for international law are fundamental tenets of the EU's foreign policy. And I know the same is true for China.

Together we need convince our other partners to put these principles at the centre of their foreign policy too. Reform of the United Nations is an important part of this process. I very much hope that agreement can be reached on the issue of the membership of the Security Council. But, important as it is, it is only one small part of the wider reform package proposed by Kofi Annan. That package also included good ideas for a Peace Building Commission, a reformed Human Rights Council, an agreed definition of terrorism and a renewed impetus for reaching the Millennium Development Goals.

Moving away from principles, let me turn to concrete action. What are the EU and China doing to promote our common objective?

The proliferation of nuclear technology and the accompanying risk of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a key threat to our peoples and to international security in general. China and the EU have both taken a lead on this issue. We are engaged in difficult and lengthy negotiations, with North Korea and Iran respectively, to limit the risks that each country poses to the non- proliferation regime.

And the EU and China have both expended considerable diplomatic effort to support what the other is doing. This has strengthened both our hands. This is strategic partnership in action.

But we are still a long way from resolution in both situations. …

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