EUROPE-CHINA FORUM - Looking forward, looking back

30 June 2015 - 13:00 - 20:00
Europe and China are expanding their cooperation into new areas, including the digital sector, infrastructure and the building of smart cities, participants told the Europe-China Forum, set up by Friends of Europe in cooperation with the Chinese Mission to the EU. The Forum was held on June 30, just a day after the official EU-China Summit attended by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The focus was on possible synergies between China’s ambitious “One Belt, One Road” initiative and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s investment plan aims to unlock 300 billion euros of investment over three years to create a million jobs in the EU.

“If we combine the Juncker Plan and One Belt One Road, then I think a free trade zone could come into effect in 2020,” said Chi Fulin, President of the China Institute for Reform and Development (CIRD). “I think it’s doable if we cooperate carefully. The next five years are a crucial time.”

Though EU-China trade is booming, the FTA hoped for by Chi is generally seen as some way off: Europeans want first to secure a better legal framework for investors in China.

However, while governments talk, the Chinese digital scene is buzzing with new start-ups and products for China’s 640 million netizens. Europeans want a piece of the action, but want also to be involved in the research and rule-making that underpins the sector.

“We need to have access to standardisation bodies and R&D programmes just like Chinese companies have in Europe,” said Linda Corugedo Steneberg, Principal Adviser at the European Commission Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT). “The only way for any relationship to prevail over the longer term is if there is something in it for both sides.”

Europe might be able to contribute to another phenomenon sweeping China: urbanisation. The country was overwhelmingly rural a few decades back, but 45% of people in China lived in cities by 2010. That’s projected to reach 60% by 2030, exacerbating a range of challenges from sanitation to the residential status of migrant workers.

“We are trying to mould a human-centred development for our cities in the future,” said Li Tie, Director General of the China Centre for Urban Development of the NDRC. “We would like to learn from Europe about better governance.” That, he specified, does not mean copying the superficial features of European cities, such as their buildings. “How can we learn the essence and real spirit of city government in Europe? How can we ensure that government will reform at the same time? All these things are crucial.”

The full report of this debate will be available soon.



Session I “Digital China” and services. New chapters in China’s economic transformation

Conversation with Li Tie / Director General of the China Centre for Urban Development

Session II - Strengthening connections. “One Belt, One Road”, trade and investments

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09.30 - 10.00 Welcome coffee and registration of participants

Welcome by Giles Merritt / Secretary General Friends of Europe

Introductory remarks from

H.E. Yang Yanyi / Ambassador and Head of the Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the European Union - Read

H.E. Hans Dietmar Schweisgut / Ambassador of the European Union to China and Mongolia

China’s economic transformation continues to intrigue and mesmerise – and create immense business opportunities – for a closely-watching world. The coming decade promises to be even more transformative as China shifts the focus to sustainable, green, high-quality growth, the development of the service sector and speeds up efforts to build a digital economy. China's start-up scene is abuzz with new products, new ideas and new investments. With access to some 640 million Chinese netizens, including 530 million mobile internet users, China now boasts a new class of internet companies which are creating their own business models, becoming increasingly innovative and extending their outreach in rural as well as in urban areas. What are the key challenges facing “Digital China”? How do China’s ambitions fit in with Europe’s own efforts to create a more competitive “Digital Europe”? What is the significance of China’s “Internet Plus” plan and 5G cooperation between the EU and China? Does China’s service-led economic transformation create new opportunities for EU-China innovation cooperation? What new investment opportunities will be opening up in China’s services sector in areas such as transport, communications, finance and health care?

Chi Fulin / President of the China Institute for Reform and Development (CIRD)

Linda Corugedo Steneberg / Principal Adviser at the European Commission Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT)

Luigi Gambardella / President of ChinaEU

Jeongmin Seong / Senior Fellow at the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) and co-author of the MGI report: “China’s digital transformation: The Internet’s impact on productivity and growth”

Larry Stone / President, Group Public and Government Affairs at BT Group


Moderated by Shada Islam / Director of Policy at Friends of Europe

12.00 - 12.30 Tea break

12.30 - 13.15 China’s cities of today and tomorrow

A conversation with Li Tie / Director General of the China Centre for Urban Development

13.15 - 14.15 Lunch break

President Xi Jinping’s plans for the Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (termed together “One Belt, One Road”) aimed at building two economic corridors with important development implications for many nations. China has set aside 40 billion dollars for the Silk Road Fund and another 100 billion dollars are being invested in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). How will Europe benefit from the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt? What is the potential for synergies between the Chinese and European infrastructure and connectivity policies? Which sectors are likely to benefit most from such cooperation? What will be the role of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in financing the “One Belt, One Road” initiative? Can the EU and China work together to build and improve the decision-making and governance mechanisms of the AIIB? How are negotiations proceeding on an EU-China Bilateral Investment Treaty? How will the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) impact on China? Could the successful negotiation of the investment accord pave the way for talks on an EU-China free trade agreement?

Introductory remarks by Lv Fengding / Vice President of the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA) and Former Chinese Ambassador to Sweden

Jo Leinen / Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the People’s Republic of China

Mario Esteban / Senior Analyst at the Real Instituto Elcano

Yonghui Li / President of the International Relations Institute, Beijing Foreign Studies University

Emanuelle Maire / Head of Unit Internal Market and Airports, Directorate for Aviation and International Transport Affairs at the European Commission Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE)

Haiyan Zhang / Professor of Asia/China Business Strategy and Management and Director of NEOMA Confucius Institute for Business at the NEOMA Business School

André Loesekrug-Pietri / Founder & Managing Partner, A CAPITAL, Finance committee board member, Friends of Europe

Xiaolu Zhang  / Assistant General Manager of Bank of China (Luxembourg)


Moderated by Shada Islam / Director of Policy at Friends of Europe

16.00 End of forum

Co-Organised with


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With the support of

CIRD        Picture3 ChinaEU


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Event starts
30 June