China, EU seek to deepen cooperation

Tuesday, 31 March 2009, 02:12 Hrs
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Beijing: China and the European Union plan to patch up recent turbulence over Tibet and deepen their cooperation this year to tackle global problems, a top EU diplomat said Monday.

"The moment has come to look forward," EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said after talks with Chinese officials in Beijing.

The focus of her two days of talks in the Chinese capital were the Group of 20 (G20) summit coming up Thursday in London, climate change, the EU-China summit in May in Prague and the issue of Tibet.

In the fight against the world economic recession, China backed an expansion of the financial resources of the International Monetary Fund, Ferrero-Waldner said.

She added that China did not promote a proposal made last week by its central bank governor to replace the dollar as the international reserve currency and to settle international payments.

"It was not brought up," she said, adding that the G20 summit, which is to bring together the world's largest economies, would concentrate on "practical steps" to revive the world economy and financial regulation.

The diplomat said she expected better relations to develop with China with two summit meetings this year after China's refusal to attend the EU-China summit in December. Its decision followed a meeting by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was EU president at the time, with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader.

Ferrero-Waldner called on the Chinese government to resume talks with the Tibetan government-in-exile while welcoming a memorandum from Tibetan exiles on their vision of autonomy.

"For a long time, the Chinese wanted to see a written position," Ferrero-Waldner said of the Tibetan proposal made during the latest round of talks in November.

"Most important is that now there is clarity that the Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity is not jeopardized," she told journalists after talks with Chinese officials in Beijing.

However, the EU official acknowledged that the differences between Beijing and the representatives of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism's spiritual leader as well as head of the government-in-exile, had not narrowed.

She called on China to grasp the chance posed by the talks because the Dalai Lama was an advocate for peace as well as the "middle way", in which he advocates patient negotiations with China for autonomy rather than full independence for Tibet.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of being a separatist who wants to create an independent "greater Tibet" to include areas of China populated by the Tibetan ethnic minority outside the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Also during Ferrer-Waldner's visit, she and Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng signed an agreement to expand their environmental cooperation by creating an Institute of Clean and Renewable Energy.

The previous US administration had been criticised for obstructing anti-global-warming initiatives. China, which along with the US, is the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, has been saying that the countries that had industrialized early had a bigger responsibility to reduce emissions.
Source: IANS
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