In the past few months, relations between the EU and China had been quite tense as illustrated by the “trade war” on solar panels and wine. Another cause of friction is the European arms embargo. In spite of these issues, China and the EU continue to maintain important trade relations. The EU is China’s largest trading partner, and China is the EU’s second largest.
All these topics were widely discussed at the 16th EU-China Summit. This event, held in Beijing on 21 November 2013, was the occasion for José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, to meet China’s new administration. Trade was not the only topic discussed during this meeting. As mentioned in a previous post by Ai Chi-an, a sub-forum was also devoted to EU-China cooperation in urbanisation, where several members of UrbaChina’s Consortium introduced the project’s activities. China’s massive urbanisation may be considered a golden opportunity for European investors, with millions of new urban consumers who may adopt European products. China will also need better transport, energy and network infrastructure to accompany this urbanisation. However, China’s urbanisation cannot be reduced only to the trade aspect. Urbanisation has created several challenges including pollution and social integration that need to be addressed. Although Europe has never undergone such massive and sudden urbanisation, we believe Europeans can provide insight on some aspects of urbanisation based on their experience. Questions relating to social housing or compact cities have been debated for a long time in Europe, and therefore this experience may help Chinese cities find their own way to resolve urban issues and offer sustainable living to their inhabitants. Regarding pollution, we can observe that most cities in Europe and in China are looking to reduce their environmental footprint and be more energy efficient; in this respect, they share the same challenge. However, these problems are complex and there is no single solution. That is why more cooperation is needed between China and Europe to make Chinese and European cities greener.