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EU Ambassador to China: ‘New Silk Road cannot be one-way street’

21 November 2018

21 November 2018

Speaking at an EU-Asia Centre event in Xi’an on 17 November, Nicolas Chapuis, the EU ambassador to China, welcomed President Xi’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) but said that it should not be a vehicle for China to outsource its overcapacity to developing Asian nations. It should respect international norms and standards as regards sustainability. Huge loans provided under the BRI were often leading to unsustainable debt levels in some countries. In living up to earlier commitments, China must adopt policies to genuinely open up the its services sector, progressively abolish quotas, restrictions and bans on imports, and deepen structural reforms on competition policy, intellectual property rights, standard-setting and transparency in public procurement.

The Ambassador, speaking in Mandarin, underlined the critical need for people-to-people engagement between China and the EU. Cultural understanding between Europeans and Chinese was a precondition for fruitful political and economic cooperation. The EU-China Year of Tourism had in that regard contributed to the strengthening of the bilateral relationship between the EU and China – even though significant differences remained, including on governmental intervention in the economy, human rights and environmental protection. Sino-European cooperation on the Iran deal and the Paris Agreement were positive illustrations of the potential of a strengthened bilateral relationship. 

The event, attended by a number of high-placed CCP officials including the governor of Shaanxi province and the Xi’an Ambassador for Tourism and Culture, marked the opening of the EU-Asia Centre’s Xi’an office. It also took place on the sidelines of the closing ceremony of the EU-China Year of Tourism, drawing leading diplomats and policymakers from around China and the EU to Xi’an. With tourist flows in both directions growing rapidly, both parties had identified tourism as an area for tangible and mutually beneficial cooperation.