In recent years, a growing number of European countries choose to cooperate with China, which shows a new stage of Sino-European ties.
On the heels of French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May, Dutch King Willem-Alexander on Tuesday headed to China for his second visit since ascending the throne. The trio's China trip in a month has sent a clear message that major European countries have opted for closer and more practical ties with China.
Accompanied by Queen Maxima, King Willem-Alexander is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping for highest-level talks between the two countries and enhance mutual trust and understanding in such fields as green finance and bilateral trade.
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Following Macron and May, the King's China trip would also provide strong push to China-Europe relations, given their countries' heftiness on the continent and their global influence.
But the desire for closer relations between China and Europe doesn't come from nowhere.
It first results from the necessity to face common challenges on the global level. In this age of great changes, China-Europe relations not only bear on the interests of people from both sides, but also have profound impact on global politics and economy.
Dr. Henry Kissinger once said "Each generation will be judged by whether the greatest and most consequential issues of the human condition have been faced."
Accounting for 10 percent of land area, a quarter of population and one third of GDP of the world, Europe and China have to join forces to promote open economy, uphold the authoritativeness and effectiveness of multilateralism, fending off threat of protectionism.
The need for each other also comes from the win-win nature of China-Europe cooperation, which counters against some media hype about China's investment in Europe.
China's investment in Europe, still dwarfed by the latter's investment in China, has helped revive the continent's economy. Take China-CEEC (Central and Eastern European countries) cooperation as an example: Romania, Latvia, Poland and Czech Republic -- the four CEEC countries which took lion share of China's investment in the region -- have witnessed strong economic recovery.
In the more developed member states of the European Union, China's investment has also created jobs and brought bankrupt factories back to life. Chinese automaker Geely's acquisition of Volvo cannot be more telling. In the past three years, Volvo's global sales have seen significant growth, with China becoming its largest market.
In 2016, sales of Volvo cars jumped more than 10 percent year-on-year to 90,930, whereas in 2010, only 22,000 Volvo cars were sold in China. The Chinese investment has been fundamental to reviving Volvo brand glory.
In addition, China and the European Union’s annual trade amounts to nearly 600 billion U.S. dollars, or over 1 million dollars every minute. And trade frictions only account for a very small portion.
Therefore, the two must look beyond differences on specific issues and grasp the big picture.
On its way to fulfill economic recovery, it is important for Europe, especially the Old part, to think big, because China-Europe relations are wider and deeper than they have thought.
As Chinese President Xi once said "to move our relationship forward, China needs to know more about Europe, and Europe needs to know more about China". It is no denying that visits by French, British and the Dutch leaders have served this purpose.
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