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Four Keywords in China-European Relations in 2015
By Feng Zhongping | Web Exclusive

"Golden era" for China-UK relations

It's unusual for both China and the United Kingdom to define their relations with each other with the term "golden era." Now a catchphrase for describing the relations between China, the UK and Europe, was first used by the UK. 

Before Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the UK this year, Barbara Woodward, the British Ambassador to China, told the Chinese press that "the UK-China relationship really is enjoying a golden year and will enjoy a golden era in future." 

China-European railways

China-European railways are a basis for the One Belt and One Road initiative as well as the backbone of the cooperation between China and Europe under the initiative. 

There are currently eight such railways in total, which start in China and end in Europe via the eastern, central, and western channels. The railways run through several Chinese cities, including cities in central and western China, such as Chongqing, Zhengzhou, Chengdu, Hefei, Wuhan and Changsha. The launch of the railways enables these cities to transform from geographically backward places to become new frontiers of reform. 

The Yixinou Railway is a perfect example. The 13,000-kilometer rail route starts from Yiwu in eastern China and travels across the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region before arriving in Europe. It is the longest of the eight existing China-European railways, and also the world's longest train route. It runs through seven countries and spans the new Silk Road economic belt.        

China-Europe land-sea express passage

China and Europe are among each other's largest trading partners. Trade between the two sides reached a record $600 billion in 2014. 

In order to shorten the distance and time of transportation between either side, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with his counterparts from Hungary, Serbia and Macedonia in December 2014 and announced that the four countries would build a land-sea express passage together with Greece. 

The express route will link the Grecian sea port of Piraeus in the south and Budapest, Hungary in the north while traveling through the Macedonian capital of Skopje and the Serbian capital of Belgrade. The route will cover a population of 32 million and push towards a promising future for trade, the transportation of goods and people-to-people exchange between China and Europe. It will shorten the time of seaborne transportation between China and Europe by up to seven or 11 days. The railway linking Budapest and Belgrade will be launched and completed in two years. 

The launch of the land-sea express passage is well in sight.  

Pragmatic diplomacy

European countries' foreign policy on China in 2015 has been described as "pragmatic diplomacy."

Europe's foreign policy has long been influenced by its values and economic interests. In recent years, economic diplomacy has gained a foothold in Europe, especially in terms of its China policy. 

Throughout 2015, pragmatic diplomacy with China has been prominent in the UK, France and Germany. In a joint statement released during his visit to the UK, Chinese President Xi Jinping remarked that China and the UK were ready to enhance their mutual trust based on the principle of equality and respect, and that the two sides recognized each other's emphasis on their own political systems, development paths, core interests and major concerns. 

In an article published in the People's Daily, Yang Yanyi, head of the Mission of the People's Republic of China to the European Union, said that "2015 marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Europe... The two sides have further identified the direction of their relations and reaffirmed that they should look beyond differences in each other's social systems, culture and ideology and examine their relations in a positive and rational way. The two sides have promised to honor their respective development paths, consider the other's development as an opportunity for cooperation, treat each other fairly, enhance their mutual trust, and lead their relations to develop on a larger scale and more profound level."

The author is the vice president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations

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