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Navigating Challenges and Opportunities: A Review of China-EU Relations in the Blue Book

By:Song Ping 2024/1/8 9:19:58
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The Institute of European Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Social Sciences Academic Press jointly released the Blue Book of Europe: Annual Development Report of Europe (2022-2023) on Tuesday, which offers a comprehensive analysis of the profound impact of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict on various aspects of security, economy, politics, diplomacy and many other areas in Europe.

The report indicates that the ongoing conflict has resulted in a full-scale confrontation between Europe and Russia, significantly disrupting the established European security order. Energy decoupling has triggered inflation and exacerbated economic downturns across European nations. Furthermore, the crisis has deepened polarization and populism in European politics. In terms of foreign relations, the crisis has heightened Europe's dependence on the United States for security and energy, while countries like France and Germany advocate for strategic autonomy, posing new challenges to the European political and economic landscape.

The report highlights that Europe is at the core of a great power competition and is experiencing a turning point in its domestic and foreign affairs. Accelerating green and digital transformation while strengthening the integration of security and defense, Europe faces the dual dilemma of internal constraints and external pressure.

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical factors, the report reveals significant progress in China-EU economic and trade cooperation in 2022. High-level visits and in-depth discussions on bilateral, regional and global issues between the two sides have greatly contributed to enhancing practical cooperation and managing differences constructively.

According to Eurostat, the total trade volume between the EU and China in 2022 surged by 23 per cent, reaching 856.3 billion euros ($910.6 billion), with China being the EU's largest import source and the third-largest export destination. In 2022, around 16,000 China-Europe freight trains were launched, transporting 1.6 million twenty-foot equivalent units. Among EU members, Germany and China have the closest economic cooperation, with bilateral trade reaching 298 billion euros in 2022, an increase of approximately 21 per cent compared to the previous year.

The report concludes by urging continued cooperation to ensure the steady progress of bilateral relations between China and Europe. As two major forces for world peace and development, China and Europe have no fundamental strategic conflicts but share much more common ground than differences. It is crucial that the two sides engage in dialogues instead of confrontation, enhance mutual understanding, and handle disputes and frictions in a constructive way, collaborating to address global challenges such as the energy crisis, climate change and public health.

Jin Yiling contributed to this story.

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