At a time when the world is facing the threat of unilateralism and trade protectionism, both China and Europe have recognized the urgency and importance of adhering to multilateralism and thus should enhance their common will to lift their cooperation to a higher level, a former senior Chinese official said in Geneva on September 19.
China's former Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said at a press briefing after a roundtable discussion among a group of Chinese and European Union (EU) think tank members that both China and the EU hope to strengthen policy communication and coordination through think-tank exchanges.
"Through this very direct, frank and constructive dialogue, we have deepened our understanding and promoted mutual trust," he told reporters.
Amid trade tensions around the world, a roundtable discussion titled "Outlooks on China-EU-U.S. Economic Relations and Multilateral Trading System" was held in Geneva on September 19. It was jointly organized by the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE) and Center for Trade and Economic Integration of the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID).
A group of Chinese experts and former officials, including former Chinese central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan, participated in the discussion.
"In the long run, the reform of the WTO (World Trade Organization) involves the interests of all WTO members, and China-EU cooperation is one of the key links," Zhu told reporters after the roundtable discussion.
He described the WTO as the most important rule-making representative of the current multilateral trading system, which plays a vital role in the settlement of disputes and the promotion of trade.
However, he said, due to the obstacles set by the United States, the complete functioning of the WTO, especially the dispute settlement mechanism, has been greatly affected. It remains an urgent task for the United States and other members to deal with constructively and cooperatively.
He also warned that at present, the spreading of unilateralism will significantly disrupt global supply chains, threaten the multilateral mechanism which safeguards the collective interests of all states, stop cultural and people-to-people exchanges as well as harm world peace and development.
As for the China-U.S. trade relations, Zhu said that to solve problems, the two sides need to communicate and negotiate, treat each other equally with mutual respect and understanding.
"China has never succumbed to external pressure," he said, adding that the China-U.S. economic relations are mutually beneficial and win-win, so it is in the interests of both countries and the world to maintain "healthy and stable economic relations."
Wei Jianguo, CCIEE Vice Chairman and former Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce, said at the press briefing after the roundtable think tank discussion that he hoped the U.S. side could return to the negotiating table as soon as possible.
"There are no winners in trade wars, and both sides lose," he stressed, adding that in the end, the Chinese side, with its more rational attitude and efforts, will "lose less."
"We firmly believe that the WTO will finally become a better rule-based, more transparent and fair institution that better represents the interests of the developing countries, and I don't want the EU to make a wrong decision at this critical moment," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency September 19, 2018)