After a two-year hiatus, the EU-China Civil Society Round Table held its annual meeting in hybrid format on 14 December. The Round Table allowed participants to hold an open exchange on post-COVID economic recovery and possible EU-China cooperation without omitting difficult questions.
During the meeting EESC President Christa Schweng stressed the need for continued dialogue, based on mutual respect, reciprocity and interest in learning from each other. "Open and direct dialogue matters, especially when having different viewpoints. I am convinced that European civil society organisations can bring much value to this," Ms Schweng emphasised.
The joint statement, signed by the co-chairs Christa Schweng (EESC President) and Zhang Qingli (Chairman of the China Economic and Social Council), calls for more and better international cooperation among civil society organisations and inclusion thereof, whether based on a trade agreement, an investment agreement or on some other kind of partnership. The joint statement also emphasises that economic recovery and trade relations are inseparable from adherence to and respect for fundamental values, rights and market freedoms. Both sides, while respecting each other's differences, commit to jointly promoting basic values, including rights, freedom and dignity of human beings.
The engagement of the EESC and CESC within the framework of the EU-China Round Table is an important contribution to the cooperation dimension in the overall context of relations between the EU and China. The interventions of civil society representatives are not limited to non-controversial issues, but also broach difficult topics and demand respect for human rights and inclusion of civil society.