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The CCCEU Weekly Update April 28, 2023: Xi, Zelenskyy talk by phone | French and German FDI in China skyrocket in Q1

CCCEU| Updated: May 4, 2023

Editor's Note: Greetings! This edition of the CCCEU Weekly Update keeps you informed of the main topics discussed during the phone call between the leaders of China and Ukraine this week. China-EU investment and trade flows in early 2023 were released, demonstrating new trends. Several key Acts under "Fit for 55" were also adopted. Enjoy reading and have a nice weekend!



On April 26th, President Xi spoke with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy on the phone, during which the two sides exchanged views on China-Ukraine relations and the Ukraine crisis. The main topics discussed during the phone call can be summarized into 6 keywords.

Sovereignty. The China side points out that mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity is the political foundation of China-Ukraine relations. The Ukrainian side is committed to the one-China policy.

Appreciation. President Xi commended President Zelenskyy for stating, on multiple occasions, the importance he attaches to developing the bilateral relationship and advancing cooperation with China, and thanked the Ukrainian side for its strong assistance in the evacuation of Chinese nationals last year. President Zelenskyy congratulated President Xi on his re-election and commended China for its remarkable achievements, and thanked China for providing humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

Cooperation. China's readiness to develop relations with Ukraine is consistent and clear-cut. China will work with Ukraine to advance mutually beneficial cooperation and take the China-Ukraine strategic partnership forward. Ukraine also hopes to advance all-round bilateral cooperation with China and open up a new chapter in Ukraine-China relations.

Peace. China always stands on the side of peace in the Ukrainian crisis and advocates for a political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. China will continue to facilitate peace talks and make efforts for an early ceasefire and restoration of peace. Ukraine welcomes China's important role in restoring peace and seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Role. China reiterates that it neither creates the Ukraine crisis, nor is it a party to the crisis. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a responsible major country, China would not sit idly by, nor would it add oil to the fire, still less exploit the situation for self gains. Ukraine recognizes that China upholds the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in international affairs and has a significant influence on the international stage.

All parties. China points out that all relevant parties must stay calm and exercise restraint. With rational thinking and voices now on the rise, it is important to seize the opportunity and build up favorable conditions for the political settlement of the crisis. It is hoped that all parties would seriously reflect on the Ukraine crisis and jointly explore ways to bring lasting peace and security to Europe through dialogue.

During the phone call, President Xi stated that China will send the Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs to Ukraine and other countries to have in-depth communication with all parties on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis. On the day of the call, President Zelenskyy appointed Pavlo Riabikin, former Minister of Strategic Industries of Ukraine, as the new Ukrainian Ambassador to China, ending the two-year vacancy in that position. The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes the Ukrainian side's appointment of a new ambassador to China and is willing to provide convenience for the ambassador's performance of his duties.

After the phone call, Zelenskyy expressed on social media in Ukrainian, English, and Chinese. "I had a long and meaningful phone call with President Xi Jinping. I believe that this call, as well as the appointment of Ukraine's ambassador to China, will give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations." Finnish President Niinisto forwarded and praised it as "good news". Zelenskyy mentioned in his subsequent detailed statement that peace must be just and sustainable, based on the principles of international law and respect for the UN Charter. There can be no peace at the expense of territorial compromises.

The phone call sparked widespread attention across the EU. Mr. Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that he is "glad" about the conversation and considered it an important first step. NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg also welcomed the call between China and Ukraine. A French presidential official stated that France encourages all dialogue that can contribute to a resolution of the conflict that is in line with the fundamental interests of Kyiv and international law. Brazilian President Lula, who is currently on his visit to Spain, was previously criticized for his calling on the US and the EU to stop providing weapons to Ukraine. In his meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez, he called for more peace efforts, "it is of no use to say who is right or wrong. The war must be stopped."

During the fourth meeting with the foreign ministers of the five Central Asian countries in Xi'an recently, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Mr. Qin Gang stated that the phone call between China and Ukraine is an important step taken by China to promote a political settlement to the Ukrainian crisis, once again reflecting China's consistent stance of promoting peace and promoting negotiations. China and Central Asian countries share similar views and positions on the Ukrainian crisis. China is willing to continue to work with all parties, including Central Asian countries, to build consensus and promote the international community to form the largest common divisor for resolving the Ukrainian crisis.


Hot topics

Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao visits Europe

According to the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China, recently, Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao visited Europe.

Wang Wentao on 24th meet with Frank Vandenbroucke, the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs and Health Frank Vandenbroucke in Brussels.

Wang Wentao also held a meeting with Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commission's executive vice president and commissioner for trade, in Brussels,discussing the preparation of the 10th China-EU High-level Economic and Trade Dialogue.

April 25-26, Wang met with Markus Söder,the governor of the German state of Bavarian; Dirk Hilbert, the mayor of the German city of Dresden; and Wolfgang Schmidt,the head of the Chancellery of German respectively in Germany.

Earlier, from 21st to 22nd, Minister Wang Wentao held talks with French Minister of Economy and Finance Le Maire and French Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade Becht in Paris respectively, attended the 6th China International Import Expo Promotion Conference and met with representatives of French business community.

Global Times points out that "While China-Europe relations are at a crossroads amid 'decoupling'calls and instigations by the US, there are multiple signs that bilateral economic ties are embarking on fast-track development, with dialogues restarting in various sectors and two-way high-level visits resuming in recent days."

The EU's CBAM has completed the legislative process.

According to Caixin news, on April 25, the EU Council voted to adopt the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), which means that after being adopted by the European Parliament on April 18, the CBAM has completed the last step of the legislative process and will officially come into effect after its publication in the EU Official Journal. The EU will become the first economy in the world to impose a carbon tariff.

According to Xinhua News Agency, in addition to the CBAM, the EU Council also adopted on the same day four other legislative proposals on combating climate change, which will promote the main economic sectors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while ensuring that some individuals, small and micro enterprises or some industries are effectively supported in the process of reducing emissions.


French and German FDI in China skyrocket in Q1

According to the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China, from January to March, China established more than 10,000 new foreign-invested enterprises, an increase of 25.5% year-on-year. At the same time, the quality of China's investment continued to improve. The actual use of foreign investment in high-tech industries increased by 18% year-on-year.

In addition, some countries and regions have significantly increased their investment in China. "From January to March this year, France and Germany's investment in China increased by 635.5% and 60.8% year-on-year, respectively. In addition, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, South Korea's investment in China also increased by 680.3%, 179.7%, 47.7%, 47.4% and 36.5%, respectively, and the investment in countries along the Belt and Road grew by 27.8%."


China-EU trade volume in the first two months of this year was 126.8 billion euros

According to Eurostat data, from January to February 2023, EU export trade to China amounted to 36.9 billion euros and import trade from China amounted to 89.9 billion euros, and the total trade between China and Europe in the first two months was 126.8 billion euros.

Nine countries sign declaration to turn North Sea into 'Europe's biggest green power plant'

Summit was held in Ostend, Belgium on the 24th. The summit adopted the "Ostend Declaration" (the "Declaration"), emphasizing that the participating countries will make full use of the North Sea region's energy and industrial potential to make it "Europe's largest green energy base" by 2050.

The Declaration sets clear targets for offshore wind power in the countries around the North Sea: 120 GW of installed offshore wind power capacity by 2030, rising to more than 300 GW by 2050.


EU Electricity & gas hit record prices in 2022

In the second half of 2022, average household electricity prices in the EU continued to show a sharp increase compared with the same period in 2021, from €23.5 per 100 kWh to €28.4 per 100 kWh. Average gas prices also increased compared with the same period in 2021 from €7.8 per 100 kWh to €11.4 per 100 kWh in the second half of 2022. These prices are the highest on Eurostat's record. 


What are experts talking about?

The EU balance of power "Eastward" is only an illusion

from: Zhang Jian

The article points out that since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Central and Eastern Europe, which has been on the periphery of the EU, has started to gain momentum, vigorously promoting the EU's escalation of sanctions against Russia and assistance to Ukraine, and playing an influential role within the EU.

There are three reasons for the sudden rise of CEE, which has always been in a marginal position:

(1) For historical and geographical reasons, CEE in general fears and hates Russia; the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis has also allowed some CEE countries to find an outlet for their long-standing grievances against France, Germany and other countries;

(2) The declining influence of Western European countries, especially France and Germany and other countries;

(3) The strong support of the United States for the CEE countries has enabled CEE to improve its status within the EU.

However, the improvement of CEE's status in the EU is more a matter of prestige than strength, and this prestige is only limited to the issue of Ukraine crisis, which is not sustainable.

This is because the fundamentals of Central and Eastern Europe's power position in relation to Western Europe have not fundamentally changed, both in terms of population size and economic power.

Thus, the so-called balance of power within the EU is tilting to the east, which is only an illusion. The inherent contradictions between Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe are only temporarily covered up by the Ukraine crisis, and in the "post-Ukraine crisis period", these contradictions may be further intensified, and the situation of Central and Eastern Europe may be more difficult.

Global trends in countries' perceptions of the Belt and Road Initiative

from: Bruegel

authers: Alicia García-Herrero, Robin Schindowski

This paper analysed the sentiment towards the Belt and Road Initiative in the world using a large open-access dataset, namely GDELT.

The paper found that the initiative is generally positively received in the world. In fact, all regions, except South Asia and North America, hold a positive average image of the BRI, Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa display are most positive to it.

The EU is the region that has most moved away from a positive sentiment towards the BRI.Except for the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Latvia and Estonia – all EU countries reported a more negative image of the BRI in 2021/22 than in 2017. The European Commission has promoted its own alternative to the BRI, namely the 'Global Gateway' and is in the midst of redefining its relationship with the African continent.

It seems clear that any analysis of the future of the BRI needs to take into account the evolving sentiment as well as China's reaction to it, which also implies a rapidly changing narrative, as a way to adapt to the growing challenges.