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Perils and potential: China-US-EU trade relations

We are hosting a number of Chinese and EU experts to discuss trade relations between the three forces.


Zhang Yansheng

Principal Researcher, China Center for International Economic Exchanges,

Xiaochuan Zhou

Vice chairman

Vice chairman, Boao forum and Former Governor, People’s Bank of China, Boao Forum for Asia Academy

Jianguo Wei

Vice Chairman, Chinese Center for International Economic Exchanges,



In this meeting, trade relations between China, the United States, and the European Union were discussed.

The panel explored principles of cooperation in global governance and international trade, particularly between the US, the EU and China. Interdependence was viewed as an essential objective, not only for economic growth, but for peace. China and the European Union share the common objective of peace, and the panel agreed that rules-based global trade, particularly through the WTO, could lead to prosperity for all. Although it is unclear as to what the future holds, the panel concluded that communication and exchange is essential between China and the EU.

Participants assessed US motives for current trade aggressiveness. They examined China’s steady rise, and considered that the US may have seen this rise as a threatening disruption of the status quo. The US responded aggressively to China’s increase in power with tariffs, prompting a trade war. These actions by the US could be an attempt to isolate and contain China and weaken US dependence upon it.

Accordingly, participants discussed the need for the rest of the world to work to facilitate and liberate trade in order to counterbalance the loss caused by US unilateralism. In particular, China and the EU could work to quicken and facilitate their bilateral investment agreement negotiations. The European Union’s investments in China last year were roughly 3% of what was invested into the US. Figures show that EU investment into China is decreasing.

Thus, the panel examined the state of the Chinese market and its accessibility to foreigners. China has made steps to opening its market to foreigners, but European businesses haven’t seemed to give much of a reaction to it. Participants debated the idea that China must create a market environment that entices European businesses. Some participants argued that the strong hand of the state in the Chinese economy and the lack of transparency have made it difficult for foreign investors to operate in China, and that European investors need a more level playing field between foreign and domestic operators in the Chinese market. The panel debated upon the importance for China to show more concrete measures of reform on state interference in the economy, particularly in the role of state-owned enterprises. Debate upon the definition of a state-owned enterprise ensued.

The panel agreed upon the conclusion that cooperation in trade relations between the EU and China will lead to peace and prosperity.

Event notes by Bowen Call