The “Hamburg Summit – China meets Europe” ended Thursday (November 24) in Hamburg with a closing lunch and keynote speeches by China’s Vice Premier Liu Yandong and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. During the two-day conference, some 550 participants including 110 Chinese delegates discussed economic change in China, collaborations between the EU and China in reference to investments, as well as the repercussions of Brexit on relations with Europe and Germany.
The summit was the first meeting of politicians and business leaders since Donald Trump became president-elect of the United States. Delegates highlighted Hamburg’s role as a junction of the New Silk Road and as China’s gateway to Europe.
Steinmeier calls for expanded collaboration
Guests of honour including Liu Yandong, Steinmeier, and the Vice President of the European Commission, Jyrki Katainen stressed the strong partnership between Europe and China. In her keynote address, Liu Yandong noted: “Just like Europe, China is experiencing a process of deep-seated changes. We are like brothers. Co-operation between China and Europe will have a wonderful future”. Mutual reliability, networking, reciprocal benefits and supportiveness are key to such co-operation.
Steinmeier noted: “If we recognise that international politics and business will always be exposed to unexpected internal and external shocks, we must then create the greatest possible degree of reliability by means of common rules.” Reliability is a strong, supporting pillar of relations with China, and co-operation should go beyond politics and business to include education, science, schooling and sport, he added.
China has welcomed meetings like the Hamburg Summit, said Liu Yandong, adding: “The Hamburg Summit, which has been jointly organised by the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce and the China Federation of Industrial Economics since 2004, focuses on China’s development as well as dialogue between China and Europe. The Hamburg Summit is a very important platform for leading economic and political stakeholders as well as entrepreneurs from China and Europe.”
Hamburg Summit aiming for closer ties
During the summit, Chinese and European representatives vowed to strengthen the already close links. Victor L.L. Chu, Chairman and CEO of the First Eastern Investment Group in Hong Kong, said Europe and China are on the verge of a “golden era” as the U.S. focuses increasingly on domestic affairs thereby creating leeway in global trade. He added: “To keep up this momentum, we need to promote cultural, educational and social exchange among the younger generation just as much as collaborations between small and medium-sized enterprises.”
China – Europe’s most important partner
Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder focused on the importance of German-Chinese relations in his opening speech: “In the last four decades, China and Germany have built a very successful partnership.” Germany continues to be China’s most important partner in Europe and Germany has opted for political cooperation with the country in recent decades. He stressed: “Co-operation, rather than confrontation, should characterise the relationships between countries, even when their political and economic systems differ.” In today’s world, no country can master all these new challenges alone. For this reason, the strategic partnership with China should be intensified in all areas – politics, culture, the economy and civil society.
Hamburg is China’s gateway to Europe
During his “closing lunch” address to 400 guests, Fritz Horst Melsheimer, President of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, stressed Hamburg’s importance as a part of the New Silk Road. “By sea and by land, there is no better terminus and junction to the New Silk Road route than Hamburg – China’s gateway to Europe.” Mutual investments are a vital step towards closer co-operation, he said, adding: “I think it became very clear at the conference that Hamburg, which is taking the lead in Sino-European relations, is making a considerable effort in promoting Chinese investments in Europe.” The transformation of the Chinese economy towards more innovation and sustainability should not be perceived as a threat. The transition will open up new opportunities for investment and market access on both sides – provided there is a clear understanding of the conditions for closer co-operation.
“Hamburg Summit” – platform for China and Europa
Initiated by the Chamber of Commerce, the Hamburg Summit is the leading Sino-European economic conference and provides a platform for fair exchange as a means of fostering such relations. The summit offers entrepreneurs from both regions the opportunity to obtain first-hand information about current developments and to broaden their networks. The conference also strives to improve economic relations and promote mutual understanding. Participants include leading business representatives, politicians and academics from China, Europe and all over the world.
Hamburg as a venue for international economic conferences
The 57 foreign ministers of the Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) are to meet in Hamburg from December 8-9, 2016. The German Foreign Office is expecting several delegates. The meeting comes shortly after NATO foreign ministers convene in Brussels from December 6-7, 2016. Hamburg will also host the G20 summit of the heads of state and government of the world’s 20 major industrial nations and emerging economies from July 7-8, 2017. Chancellor Angela Merkel had proposed Hamburg as the venue.