Sino-European summit with Vice Premier Liu Yandong and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier: Europe and China continue to be strong partners

Today, the “Hamburg Summit – China meets Europe”, the leading Sino-European economic conference, was concluded in Hamburg with a closing lunch and keynote speeches by Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The Hamburg Summit was hosted by the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. During the two-day conference, some 550 participants – among them 110 Chinese delegates – discussed topics such as economic change in China, collaborations between the EU and China in the area of investments, as well as Brexit’s effects on relations with Europe and Germany. At the same time, the Hamburg Summit was the first meeting of leading figures from politics and business of both partners following the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. During the conference talks, participants highlighted Hamburg's role as a junction of the New Silk Road and as China's gateway to Europe.

The Hamburg Summit’s guests of honour – China’s Vice Premier, Liu Yandong, Germany’s Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and the Vice President of the European Commission, Jyrki Katainen – emphasised the strong partnership between Europe and China.

Liu Yandong explained in her Keynote: “Just like Europe, China is experiencing a process of deep-seated changes. We are like brothers”. According to the Chinese politician: “Cooperation between China and Europe will have a wonderful future”. Mutual reliability, networking, reciprocal benefits and supportiveness are key elements for cooperation between China and Europe.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, added: “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.” According to Mr Steinmeier, reliability is a strong supporting pillar in relations with China, and cooperation should extend beyond politics and business to include education, science, schooling and sport.”

China welcomes such meetings like the Hamburg Summit: “The Hamburg Summit, which has been jointly organised by the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce and the China Federation of Industrial Economics since 2004, focusses 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” stated China’s Vice Premier Liu Yandong.

Hamburg Summit committed to strengthening ties between Europe and China

During the event, representatives from China and Europe underlined their intentions to strengthen the close links between these two economic regions even further.

The Chairman and CEO of the First Eastern Investment Group in Hong Kong, Victor L.L. Chu, expressed the view that Europe and China are about to enter into a “golden era” as the US would focus increasingly on internal affairs and thus create leeway within global trade. “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,” Mr Chu said.

In his opening speech, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder highlighted the importance of German-Chinese relations: “In the last four decades, China and Germany have built a very successful partnership.” He said that Germany continues to be China's most important partner in Europe, with Germany opting for political cooperation with the People's Republic over recent decades. “Cooperation, rather than confrontation, should characterise the relationships between countries, even when their political and economic systems differ,” emphasised Mr Schröder. “In today's world, there is no country that can master all these new challenges alone. This is why we must intensify the strategic partnership with China in all areas – in politics and culture, as well as in the economy and civil society,” Mr Schröder concluded.

Hamburg: terminus for the New Silk Road as well as China’s gateway to Europe

Before 400 guests at the Hamburg Summit’s closing lunch, Fritz Horst Melsheimer, President of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, emphasised 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 cooperation, Mr Melsheimer added. “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.” According to Mr Melsheimer, the transformation of the Chinese economy towards more innovation and sustainability should not be perceived as a threat. Instead, this transition will open up new opportunities for investment and market access on both sides – provided there is a clear understanding of the conditions for such enhanced cooperation.

Conference Chairman Nikolaus W. Schües believes that his home town is on the right course in this regard: “Hamburg serves as a positive example of how European and Chinese businesses successfully collaborate to promote innovation and sustainable growth,” Mr Schües said.

The Hamburg Summit – a platform for China and Europe

Initiated by the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, the Hamburg Summit is the leading Sino-European economic conference. It aims to provide a platform for fair exchange between China and Europe as a means of fostering Sino-European relations. At the same time, the Hamburg Summit offers entrepreneurs from both world regions the opportunity to obtain first-hand information on current developments and to broaden their networks. As a high-level platform for open dialogue between Europe and China, the conference serves to improve economic relations and promote mutual understanding. Participants include leading business representatives, politicians and academics from China, Europe and other parts of the world.

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Hamburg – China’s trading hub in Europe

Hamburg is China’s gateway to Europe. Today more than 50 percent of German foreign trade with the People’s Republic of China is handled in the port of Hamburg. In 2015, the volume of China-related container transport amounted to 2.5 million container units (TEU). This accounts for about a third of the volume of all containers handled in Hamburg, making China the port of Hamburg’s number one foreign trade partner. Over 550 Chinese companies have offices in Hamburg, and Hamburg is thus home to more Chinese businesses than any other European city. More than 700 Hamburg businesses are engaged in trade with China, managing their China-related imports and exports from Hamburg for the whole of Europe.

With the CHINA TIME series of events and the Hamburg Summit, Hamburg is playing host to this year’s two biggest China-related events. In addition, Hamburg is celebrating its 30th anniversary of partnership with Shanghai in 2016 and continues to maintain close political, economic, cultural and social relations with this Chinese trading hub.


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