China on Friday named veteran diplomat Wu Hongbo as its first special representative for European affairs to enhance “communication, coordination and cooperation”.
“We (China and Europe) share consensus and common interests for upholding multilateralism, free trade and fostering an open world economy. We hope this (appointment) can (…) help us achieve progress in our relations for,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told the media.
Wu has previously been a UN Under-Secretary-General for economic and social affairs and also a Chinese Ambassador to Germany and the Philippines.
Geng said the diplomat would be expected to help “the Foreign Ministry with Europe related affairs, and advance high-level exchange and participate in exchange and cooperation and work for the China-EU partnership for peace, growth, reform and civilization”.
In a summit with the European Union (EU) in April, China had offered equal treatment to the bloc’s companies investing and operating in its territory and pledged more efforts to implement international norms on industrial subsidies, a development described by the EU as a big step forward.
The EU is China’s biggest trade partner, while the Asian giant is the second largest trade ally for Europe. Daily goods trade between the two sides is estimated to be worth more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.67 billion).
China has maintained close cooperation with other European countries through the Belt and Road Initiative, which is backed by 17 Central and East European countries.