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Political parties forum progresses well

Updated: 2012-06-03 17:20
By Uking Sun ( chinadaily.com.cn)

Beijing – Difference and cooperation rank the most frequent words used during the third China-EU High Level Political Parties Forum in Brussels. Nearly all CPC officials and leaders of five political groups in the European Parliament stressed the need to seek consensus amid divergence over political or economic issues at its closing.

Political parties forum progresses well

Participants attend the third China-EU High Level Political Parties Forum in Brussels, May 30, 2012.

It would be unrealistic for the three-day forum to reach broad agreement since China and the EU, as two of the world’s biggest economies, have engaged extensively with each other on a governmental, economical and people-to-people level. However, participants at the forum made full use of the time to speak and listen, from the very beginning to the end.

Three hours before the Chinese delegation left for the airport on the night of May 28, Kong Genhong, deputy director-general of the Research Office, International Department of the CPC Central Committee (IDCPC), was brainstorming with his colleagues over the topics scheduled for the annual forum. Led by IDCPC minister Wang Jiarui, the Chinese delegation included influential scholars in international affairs, trade and finance, social security, and promising youth officials across the country.

Not only did the Chinese delegation want to gain a deeper understanding of the policies of its biggest trade partner, but the EU participants also took time to make the trip worthwhile for Chinese visitors. The southern Belgian city of Liège rolled out its red carpet for the Chinese delegation with its mayor, Willy Demeyer, hosting a welcome lunch at the city’s iconic Colonster Castle.

Political parties forum progresses well

Wang Jiarui (L) talks with Reinhard Bütikofer and Veronique De Keyser (R) during the coffee and tea break after the opening ceremony of the third China-EU High Level Political Parties Forum in Brussels, May 29, 2012.

As leaders of political parties met in the European Parliament, time seemed to fly faster than they could imagine. Wang Jiarui’s keynote speech on building a new type of China-EU relations enticed EU participants, and Reinhard Bütikofer, vice-president of the Greens / EFA group and Veronique De Keyser, vice-president of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament kept him busy during the coffee and tea break.

"Although there are many differences, both sides shared the feeling of working together and finding solutions to common challenges," Veronique De Keyser said. Reinhard Bütikofer also agreed with Wang that China-EU relations should be based upon mutual respect and frank, candid discussions. He called on politicians not to avoid difficulties and to try to overcome them on the basis of mutual trust.

Frank discussions sometimes can be tough, especially on human rights. The workshop on China-EU economic cooperation was almost derailed after the main presenter Jin Liqun, a veteran financial and economic expert, put aside his original speech and elaborated on his view of China’s human rights. “Please learn some Chinese,” he said.

Jin appeared to be provoking but he said he was actually terrified by the ignorance of some speakers. To save time, he suggested to the chair Vladimir Andreev Urutcheve to cancel the 30-minute break. “ We flied thousands of miles from Beijing to Brussels not to have a brief chat, so we need to talk more,” said Jin Liqun.

Political parties forum progresses well

A view of the workshop about Youth and Social Responsibilities on the sidelines of the third China-EU High Level Political Parties Forum in Brussels, May 30, 2012.

The urgency of in-depth discussions was felt by other Chinese participants. Cheng Xiangmin, deputy party chief in Putuo District, Shanghai said that the two hours of discussion on the topic of Youth and Social Responsibilities was too short as he unwillingly collected his documents. Chen Wei, party chief of Zaozhuang in East China’s Shandong province, also expected more reactions from Jens Rohde, president of the European Liberal Youth, after he explained job creation measures.

Graham Watson, president of the European Liberal Democrats and Reform Party (ELDR), said he was surprised by the willingness of Chinese officials to talk about human rights during this forum. Li Jinjun, vice- minister of IDCPC, said the Party was open to exchanging ideas on a broad range of issues and it’s normal to have different opinions due to each other’s political systems and culture.

The forum was never intended to be a hand-shaking or group photo moment; it was designed to be a core pillar in developing a China-EU comprehensive relationship. Li Jinjun said two goals have been realized through the forum so far. The forum created a favorable atmosphere for continuing further dialogues and preparing some previously aggressive MEPs to speak out. Participants at the forum started to explore strategic issues and reached a consensus on many issues.

In the next phases, the CPC hopes both sides can turn the consensus into forces that really affect policy-making and push forward the China-EU relations, Li said.

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