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Premier: EU, China must face challenges together

Premier Li Keqiang called on the European Union to work with China to cope with challenges by expanding cooperation and common interests amid rising unilateralism and protectionism.

Li made the comment on a phone call with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday, a day ahead of his visit to Bulgaria and Germany.

Later this week, Li will attend the seventh Leaders' Meeting of China and Central and Eastern European Countries in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. He also will co-chair the fifth China-Germany intergovernmental consultation in Berlin.

China hopes to exchange views on relations with the bloc at the upcoming China-EU leaders' meeting and to reach pragmatic outcomes in fields such as bilateral investment treaty negotiation and climate change, the premier said. China also expects to work with the EU in upholding multilateralism; promoting trade liberalization and investment facilitation; and safeguarding world peace, stability and development, he said.

On the upcoming seventh Leaders' Meeting of China and Central and Eastern European Countries in Bulgaria this week, Li told Juncker that China firmly supports European integration and wants to see a united, stable and developing EU.

China-CEEC cooperation, also known as the "16+1"mechanism, is an open, transparent and inclusive cross-regional organization, and a vital part of and helpful supplement to China-EU relations, Li said.

The world's second-largest economy has adhered to international rules and EU laws and regulations in its cooperation with CEE nations, which is beneficial to more balanced development in Europe and its integration process, the premier said.

European companies are welcome to join the "16+1"mechanism to achieve win-win outcomes, the premier said.

In response, Juncker said all members of the EU agree to adopt multilateralism-oriented policies. The EU hopes to make a strong voice with China in support of multilateralism and free trade during the 20th China-EU Leaders' Meeting later this month, he said. The bloc is ready to strengthen coordination with China in areas such as bilateral investment treaty negotiation, climate change and the aviation sector, he said.

The EU is open to cooperation in the "16+1" mechanism that is line with the bloc's trade policies, Juncker added.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a news briefing on Wednesday.

Answering whether China and the EU will reach consensus in global trade and investment, Lu said both sides agreed to expand economic and trade cooperation, support and promote economic globalization at the 7th China-EU High-level Economic and Trade Dialogue in Beijing last month. Both sides also agreed to fight unilateralism and trade protectionism and safeguard the rule-based multilateral trading system, he said.

Though the dialogue could not solve all problems, China and the EU can contribute to the development of bilateral ties and the changing world with win-win cooperation, the spokesman added.