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China and the EU - Bringing in Civil Society, Culture and Education

China and the EU:Bringing in Civil Society, Culture and Education

9 May 2012

The Hanns Seidel Foundation held a lunchtime conference, 9 May 2012 on China and the EU. Katharina Ptzelt introduced Dr. Gerhand Sabathil (Director EEAS for North East Asia and the Pacific) who gave a comprehensive overview of the key aspects of the current EU-China strategic partnership post the 14th EU-China Summit and the prospects for the next summit. He highlighted the common challenges described in the respective key strategic documents – the EU’s 2025 Strategy and China’s 12th Five-Year-Plan.  He particularly welcomed the creation of a third pillar – culture –alongside trade and strategic relations.  Sabathil also emphasised the importance of exchanges between civil society representatives and higher education institutions as the key to promoting mutual understanding.

Prof. Zhao Boying, Director General of Department of Culture and History of Central Party School (China), offered an optimistic picture on the current EU-China strategic partnership and discussed the importance of mutual understanding and trust in the age of globalisation.

Prof. Zhu Bangning, Department of International Strategy of Central Party School, gave a historical review of Europe-China relations with particular attention to the legacy of Matteo Ricci (1552-1610).  He noted that Europe is still the primary source of technology transfer for China, despite certain restrictions still in place such as the arms embargo.

Glyn Ford, Board Member of the European Institute of Asia Studies, argued that current EU-China relations could be characterised as a ‘two-faced relationship’. He then highlighted market economy status, the arms embargo, re-evaluation of RMB and human rights as issues of controversy upon which the EU’s current positions/policies need to be more balanced.

In the discussion moderated by Shada Islam, Head of Policy Department, Friends of Europe, the audience raised issues about the rule of law, EU debt crisis, collective versus individual rights and the role of the Central Party as a research institute and think-tank for the Chinese Communist Party.