As China and European leaders meet today for a one-day summit, both sides will be indirectly addressing a growing issue: The increasing close relationship between China and the United States.
Doubt has arisen within the European Union bloc that the economic and political coalition has fallen behind the US in strategic importance to China, especially after US President Barack Obama's recent four-day visit.
Premier Wen Jiabao highlighted China-EU relations in a meeting with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso yesterday in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province. He called on the EU to take a more strategic view with Beijing and ensure the stability of ties.
"China-EU relations should advance in a more strategic, comprehensive and stable fashion," said Wen in a press release issued by the Foreign Ministry ahead of the 12th China-EU Summit. China Business News has reported that the two sides will sign a total of six documents of cooperation today, mainly focusing on the environment and energy.
In a recent forum on China-EU relations in Beijing, prominent European scholars argued that the ties fall short of being strategic, with the European bloc valuing a security alliance and common values as essential to ties.
China, on the other hand, holds a slightly different view.
"A more strategic view means expanding our understanding on major issues and pushing forward a fair and reasonable international political and economic order," Wen said yesterday.
China-EU relations have experienced setbacks in the past year, such as the meeting between several European leaders with the Dalai Lama.
Experts said that Wen set the tone yesterday for future China-EU relations.
By confirming the EU's importance, China wants to convey the message that it will not pursue isolated special relationships with any superpower or power bloc, said Feng Zhongping, chief of European studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
The nation is stressing more multilateral ties, Feng said.
The two sides are also meeting at a time when each is experiencing fast internal changes. China is rising to exert a major influence in world affairs, emphasizing its strength in surviving the sweeping financial crisis.
The EU, the biggest bloc of developed countries now in a recession, is expected to further unify with its first president, Herman Van Rompuy.