November 30, 2009
During the “Forum on China-EU Partnership” in Beijing on 20 November 2009, sponsored by the Chinese government (see post of 27 November), the European scholars, led by former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, met Premier Wen Jiabao for an hour-long discussion.
It was significant that the premier devoted this amount of time to us, and he clearly wished to show that the EU remains relevant to China.
The following points emerged from what Wen said:
• We live in a “multipolar” world (the word “multipolar” and not “multilateral” was used).
• There is a PRC-EU strategic partnership; China does not have one with the US. It should be “comprehensive”. There are currently 60 mechanisms.
• Wen told Obama that the G2 idea was unacceptable for three reasons. First, China will be a developing country for a long time. Second, China pursues an independent foreign policy and seeks neither alliances nor blocs. Third, the world should not be led by a couple of countries.
• Trade, of course, figured large in Wen’s mind. China seeks European technology. Climate change will be high on the agenda at the Nanjing summit.
• Protectionism must be fought.
• Wen was asked what big idea would move the relationship forward? He replied: the EU lifting the arms embargo and granting MES.
• China is prepared to undertake not to buy arms from Member States. I do not recall such a public statement before.
• The Chinese government will study former Polish Prime Minister Peter Medgyessi’s proposal to create a joint wise persons’ group to advise how to create a strategic forum. He will also explore this with President Barroso.
• Wen said that he was prepared to go to Copenhagen if it would help.
• Wen recognized that with 27 Member States, reaching consensus is more difficult.
• He was happy that the Lisbon Treaty had been ratified and saw the two appointments as a further institutional step in integration.
• Beijing would watch closely and try to figure out what changes the new treaty will bring about.