Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Cui Aimin at the BRIX Webinar: “Europeans for the BRI”

In this warm spring season with blooming flowers, it gives me great pleasure to be invited to attend today’s webinar and exchange views with you. Your insights will be of great significance to the further deepening of China-Europe cooperation. On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Sweden, I would like to express my gratitude to BRIX and all the guests.

The world today is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. China and Europe are two major forces for world peace, two major markets for common development, and two major civilizations advancing human progress. Deepening China-Europe exchanges and cooperation is conducive to world stability and prosperity. Both China and Europe stand for upholding the UN-centered international system, support trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and value green, low-carbon and sustainable development. Both sides have similar development goals, highly compatible ideas, and complementary industrial advantages. We have no clash of fundamental interests or geostrategic conflicts, and our common interests far outweigh differences. There is huge potential in deepening China-Europe practical cooperation. At present, the Chinese economy is picking up. We are advancing high quality development and formation of new quality productive forces. This injects new impetus into China-Europe cooperation and provides new opportunities. Both sides should seize the chance, consolidate cooperation in traditional fields, actively explore cooperation in new areas like green, low-carbon and science and technology innovation, so as to make the pie of interests bigger and bring more benefits to our two peoples.

Indeed, China-Europe cooperation also faces multiple challenges. In terms of the external environment, the world has entered a new period of turbulence and transformation, with sluggish economic recovery, increased geopolitical tensions and rampant unilateralism, protectionism and hegemonism. In terms of the cognitive perspective, China and Europe have different historical and cultural backgrounds, and we are at different stages of development. Therefore, some differences and disputes do exist. Some European countries and forces are not adaptable to China’s development, have all kinds of doubts and even make serious misjudgments. In terms of specific practices, some European countries and institutions have become increasingly inward-looking. On cooperation with China, there’s an increasing tendency to be politicizing, ideology-centric and over-stretching the concept of security. There have even been attempts to decouple with China in the name of “de-risking”, to set trade barriers using the excuse of China’s “overcapacity”, to initiate the so called anti-subsidy investigation, and to groundlessly suppress and contain Chinese enterprises using all kinds of excuses. Such practices not only interfere with the order of fair market competition, jeopardize the positive atmosphere of bilateral cooperation, but also undermine the stability of global supply and industrial chains, which runs counter to the common interests of China and Europe. We should keep the right direction of China-Europe cooperation from a strategic and long-term perspective, discard prejudice, bridge differences and work together to explore the way forward.

In the face of these challenges and problems, the Belt and Road Initiative, which adheres to the concepts of openness and inclusiveness and the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, transcends the traditional models of international cooperation and is the best choice for China and Europe to resolve differences and achieve win-win cooperation. In 2013, Chinese president Xi Jinping formally proposed the Belt and Road Initiative. Over the past decade, the Belt and Road Initiative has flourished from scratch, injected strong impetus into China-Europe cooperation and achieved broad, comprehensive and diverse fruits.

Policy coordination has been extensive and in-depth. Guided by the political leadership of Chinese and European leaders, the Belt and Road Initiative has been written into the joint official statements between China and the EU, as well as between China and the UK, France, Germany, etc. China has signed various forms of cooperation documents on the Belt and Road Initiative such as MOU, protocols and agreements with nearly 30 countries including Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal and Switzerland. More and more countries have chosen to join the big family of the Belt and Road construction and ride the China express train to better realize their own development.

Infrastructure connectivity has been fruitful. China-Europe Railway Express has reached 217 cities in 25 European countries and run 87,000 trips. For the first time, China’s high-speed trains  with a speed of more than 200 km/h have  been exported to Europe, providing better transport services for the Hungary-Serbia railway. The Piraeus port in Greece has increased its  annual cargo throughput to over 5 million TEU, becoming the fourth largest container port in Europe. Liege and Luxembourg have become new land and air freight hubs between China and Europe, driving the rapid development of land, sea and air transport between China and Europe.

Trade connectivity has improved quality and upgraded. China and Europe are each other’s most important trading partner. The Belt and Road Initiative has brought the two markets closer together. In 2023, the trade volume of goods between China and Europe reached 783 billion USD, with an average trade volume of nearly 1.5 million USD per minute. Two-way investment between China and Europe has exceeded 250 billion USD. Companies from both sides remain optimistic about each other’s markets. More than 90% of European companies plan to make China their investment destination, and more than 80% of Chinese companies plan to expand their business in Europe.

Financial integration has become more diverse. Chinese and European financial institutions have actively participated in the construction of the Belt and Road. Twenty EU countries including Sweden have joined the AIIB. China has joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The Silk Road Fund and the European Investment Fund have jointly established the China-EU Co-Investment Fund. China and the EU are making continuous progress in capital market connectivity and building a long-term, stable, sustainable and risk-controllable investment and financing system.

People-to-people exchanges have a solid foundation. The two sides have held cultural relics exhibitions, book fairs, film festivals, art festivals, music festivals, cultural year and tourism year in each other’s countries, and have strengthened cooperation in urban architecture, exchanges between museums and galleries, and protection of cultural heritage. Exchanges among non-governmental organizations, think tanks, media and the youth have deepened, forming a pattern of diversified interactions and flourishing cultural and people-to-people exchanges, which has greatly enhanced mutual trust and friendship between our two peoples.

Looking ahead, the trend towards a multi-polar world will not change. The general direction of economic globalization will not change. The trend of peace, development and win-win cooperation will not change. The Belt and Road construction between China and Europe has broad prospects. We will continue to hold high the banner of a community with a shared future for mankind, continue to promote high-quality development and high-level opening-up, take the EU as a key partner in economic and trade cooperation, a priority partner in scientific and technological cooperation, and a trusted partner in industrial and supply chain cooperation. We will strengthen policy communication, understanding and mutual trust, advance the Belt and Road cooperation, better complement each other’s strengths in market, capital and technology, promote the upgrading of traditional industries and the development of emerging industries, support the win-win cooperation for mutual benefits between China and the EU, and improve the well-being of our peoples.

Dear friends, the well-known European poet Carl Spitteler once said that there is no greater happiness than having friends who share the same outlook and destiny with oneself. Let us walk together on the path of jointly building the Belt and Road and join hands to create a better future for mankind!