STORY HIGHLIGHTS


Expert on President Xi-s visit to Europe

CNC
Added On April 5, 2014

Chinese President Xi Jinping has just concluded his state visits to four European countries.
 
They've been lauded by world media and scholars as significant steps to bringing China and Europe closer together.
 
CNC correspondent Jiang Li sits down with Director of the European Centre for International Political Economy to discuss the president's European trip. 
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): JIANG LI, CNC Correspondent  
"On April 1st, Chinese president Xi Jinping left Belgium, the last leg of his four-nation Europe trip, which has already taken him to the Netherlands, France and Germany. He also attended the third Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. On his successful visit to Europe, we invite Fredrik Erixon, the director of the European Centre for International Political Economy to our CNC studio in Brussels. Welcome to our studio today, Mr. Erixon.
 
As an expert on the China-Europe relationship, what impression has president Xi's visit to Europe brought you? And generally speaking, what is the highlight of his visit in your opinion?"
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): Fredrik Erixon, Director of ECIPE  
"I think what we've seen at this summit is apart from trying to put more emphasis on the investment agreement negotiations. They are now talking about the idea of a deep comprehensive free trade agreement to be considered at some point in the future. They're talking about China's participation in services trade negotiations that go on in Geneva these days and equally important, they are beginning to talk about other issues that I think could help to fuse this relation with more energy. For instance China's role in international peacekeeping missions."
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): JIANG LI, CNC Correspondent 
"We've noticed that just a few days before Xi's Europe trip, both sides reached a deal to end a dispute over European wine exports to China. They also resolved a row over polysilicon, which is used in making solar panels. It's been a while to ease the trade frictions between China and the EU. What do you think of the effect of President Xi's visit on the trade dispute negotiation? How do you think of this effect?"
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): Fredrik Erixon, Director of ECIPE  
"Well, I mean nothing in the world comes for free, and China has in my view quite rightly being criticizing the EU forced trade defence actions against China. What happened now was that China can much more political leverage, with much more political strength. I mean it is one thing if you have president coming. It is another thing if you have other ministers to come. Presidential visit like this signals a strong interest actually to do something and of course that is also putting pressure on European governments, certainly EU institutions, but also the European governments."
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): JIANG LI, CNC Correspondent 
"Besides these disputes and friction things, President Xi also visited a local plant of the automaker Volvo in the company of Belgian King Philippe. The two heads of state also unveiled the 300,000th car to be exported to China. Along with the successful negotiation on bilateral trade, what's the stimulus has Xi's visit brought to the economic cooperation between the two sides?"
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): Fredrik Erixon, Director of ECIPE 
"Well, I think we order to have a very active agenda there with the negotiations going on on the new bilateral investment treaty between China and Europe. And that treaty itself is also, it is going to be a landmark deal if they actually manage to deliver on the promises they have set out. I think that is a big thing in itself. The other part which I think is quite obvious to both sides when you start to look at is that they have quite challenging reform agendas ahead of them. If you look at many of the sectors for instance in Europe where, or many countries which have been trailing economically in the past and now, there are typically economies that need to reform themselves. They need to open up markets to much more competition. They need to find ways to incentivize productive economic behaviour. And I think we see similar challenges in China as well of course, which have been recognized by the president and the government. The question here is can they help each other to achieve an increasing pays of economic reforms? And I think they can. Most importantly through beginning new type of trade negotiations with each other in addition to what they are already doing in investment, but also by trying to get China into the trading services agreement negotiations and facilitate economic reforms there because it is going to help both parts in a sense that they are going to get stronger pushes on actually delivering on reforms."
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): JIANG LI, CNC Correspondent  
"So could you please elaborate on the improvement of the bilateral trade now and also what is still need to be done of both sides to improve the cooperation between the EU and China?"
   
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): Fredrik Erixon, Director of ECIPE 
"We do not have a sort of golden lock economic conditions for trade growth that we had in the past. Now if we do not try to figure out what actually needs to happen in this relationship in order to help through policy reform to do more trade. You have two different things. The first thing, you can start to look at the more immediate type of trade issues. The host of issues there are on both sides, which includes tariffs, some kind of tariffs on specific goods. We are talking about services sectors that are highly protected. We are talking about other type of regulatory barriers which may not be designed in order to prevent trade, but they certainly have that effect. So that is one family of policy reforms. The other family of policy reforms has to do with domestic economic reforms. And the capacity of a country to trade with the rest of the world is a reflection of the degree to wish it has arranged its own market in the way to promote a competition and choice. And what we need to see on both sides in order for trade to climb is of course they go through period of economic reforms."
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): JIANG LI, CNC Correspondent   
"So there're more for both sides to improve. And after President Xi's visit, what will be the future trend of China-Europe bilateral trade?"
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): Fredrik Erixon, Director of ECIPE  
"Well, I mean the trend of trade is a cyclical trend. And by that I mean trade is going to grow in accordance with the economic cycle. So that means very slow trade growth. That slogs the trend going forward now. And I think the important point here is that unless both sides, either do economic reforms or start to negotiate trade deals with each other, we're not going to see that this trend is going to climb very much in future compared to now."
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): JIANG LI, CNC Correspondent 
"When President Xi visited Belgium, he went to the College of Europe in Brugge. He made the remarks when addressing the students of during his state visit to Belgium. He said that after the "reform and opening-up" was launched, Chinese people have explored and blazed a trail of development and established socialism with Chinese characteristics. How do you think of the modernized China, both on economy, politics and diplomacy?"
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): Fredrik Erixon, Director of ECIPE 
"Well, I mean I think it remains to be seen. I mean most of all, the biggest take away of the biggest conclusion of course to draw from the post-1970 day process in China has been hugely beneficial, hugely beneficial to China, to Chinese people and the rest of the world. And I want to see China just continuing along this track. I think there are a couple of interest questions now, which of course is that one of them is that China now has a quite such a size, such a share of the world economy that everyone is going to start to look at China now. Then what do you want to do with everything from the world trade organization or what we are going to do with International Monetary Fund, how do we deal with countries like Russia, or how do we deal with Ukraine etc? And so far, China of course has a strategy of course of trying to by this time keeping its head down. But we see now China just beginning a process to try to establish a policy and a strategy for what China wants to do, what China wants to integrate with the world and perhaps also to lead the world. And I think that is something which is highly necessary because China is not going to be able to escape that issue because when you are such a big economy, with so many big economic interest in the world, you are going to face enormous pressure on yourself to respond to different events in the world. And I think this is one of the more interesting developments we are going to see on this president and of course on the coming presidents in China. How they actually are going to flesh out that agenda and that strategy?"
   
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): JIANG LI, CNC Correspondent 
"There is a beautiful highlight during Xi's visit. His wife Peng Liyuan accompanied him. She's called one of the most fashionable and elegant first ladies around the world. What's the impression has she brought to European people? And what do you think of her visit improving the diplomatic relationship between China and Europe?"
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): Fredrik Erixon, Director of ECIPE  
"Well, I mean it is like many other spouses of presidents in the world, I think she has that very strong capacity to use what we can call, you know, for want of a better world, "soft power" that you help to communicate to culture, you help to communicate to the aspirations of the society, what you want to be. And I think she does that in a really good way, I think she also does that in a way which attracts a lot of people. You know like for instance Michelle Obama, the wife of the American president has the capacity to tell a story about a country which is distant from what presidents or prime ministers' deal, which is security policy, economic policy, frictions."
 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): JIANG LI, CNC Correspondent  
"Thank you, Mr. Erixon. Thank you so much for joining us in our studio and sharing with us your opinions."