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Trade and business have long been the backbone of EU-China relations.  But as both Europe and China expand their regional and global presence, there are an increasing number of areas where EU-China cooperation and consultation have become a compelling necessity.  Building on successful efforts to work together in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, Beijing and Brussels are interested in further developing their security and defence cooperation.

China’s economic transformation continues to intrigue and mesmerise – and create immense business opportunities – for a closely-watching world.  The coming decade promises to be even more transformative as China shifts the focus to sustainable, green, high-quality growth, the development of the service sector and speeds up efforts to build a digital economy. China’s start-up scene is abuzz with new products, new ideas and new investments. With access to some 640 million Chinese netizens, including 530 million mobile internet users, China now boasts a new class of internet companies which are creating their own business models, becoming increasingly innovative and extending their outreach in rural as well as in urban areas.

In part 1, Friends of Europe Secretary General, Giles Merritt, moderates the discussion. The panel includes Shada Islam, Director of Policy at Friends of Europe; Chi FulinPresident of the China Institute for Reform and Development (CIRD); Linda Corugedo StenebergPrincipal Adviser at the European Commission Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT); Luigi Gambardella, President of China-EU; Jeongmin SeongSenior Fellow at the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) and co-author of the MGI report: “China’s digital transformation: The Internet’s impact on productivity and growth”;and Guo Wei, Chairman and Executive Director of  Digital China

The disussion focusing on what are the key challenges facing “Digital China”? How do China’s ambitions fit in with Europe’s own efforts to create a more competitive “Digital Europe”? What is the significance of China’s “Internet Plus” plan and 5G cooperation between the EU and China? Does China’s service-led economic transformation create new opportunities for EU-China innovation cooperation? What new investment opportunities will be opening up in China’s services sector in areas such as transport, communications, finance and health care?

In part 2, the panel discuss strengthening connections: “One Belt, One Road”, trade and investments. President Xi Jinping’s plans for the Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (termed together “One Belt, One Road”) aimed at building two economic corridors with important development implications for many nations. China has set aside 40 billion dollars for the Silk Road Fund and another 100 billion dollars are being invested in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

How will Europe benefit from the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt? What is the potential for synergies between the Chinese and European infrastructure and connectivity policies? Which sectors are likely to benefit most from such cooperation? What will be the role of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in financing the “One Belt, One Road” initiative? Can the EU and China work together to build and improve the decision-making and governance mechanisms of the AIIB? How are negotiations proceeding on an EU-China Bilateral Investment Treaty? How will the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) impact on China? Could the successful negotiation of the investment accord pave the way for talks on an EU-China free trade agreement?

Introductory remarks are made by Lv Fengding, Vice President of the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA) and Former Chinese Ambassador to Sweden. Speakers in part to include Jo Leinen, Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the People’s Republic of China; Mario Esteban, Senior Analyst at the Real Instituto Elcano; Yonghui Li, President of the International Relations Institute, Beijing Foreign Studies University; Haiyan Zhang, Director of NEOMA Confucius Institute for Business at the NEOMA Business School and Professor of Asia/China Business Strategy and Management at Antwerp Management School; André Loesekrug-Pietri, Founder & Managing Partner, A CAPITAL, Finance committee board member, Friends of Europe and Liqin He / General Manager of Bank of China (Luxembourg), S.A. Brussels Branch.