On May 3, Vice Premier of the State Council Li Keqiang and Vice President of European Commission Joaquim Almunia attended the opening ceremony of High-level Meeting on China- EU Urbanization Partnership at the Royal Theater of Brussels. Li gave a speech titled Break New Ground in Pursuing Chin-EU Strategic Cooperation on Urbanization.
Li noted that this meeting represented a concrete step to implement the agreement reached at the 14th China-EU Summit and advance China-EU partnership on urbanization and it marked the beginning of a new endeavor to promote China-EU strategic cooperation on urbanization.
Cities are the crystallization of human civilization and urbanization is an important part of modernization. European cities with unique features are focused on saving urban space, providing good public services, creating a livable environment and preserving natural landscape and historical traditions. China, a country with an ancient civilization, also has a proud history of urban development. Since the launching of reform and opening-up program over 30 years ago, China has quickened the pace of industrialization and urbanization, with urban population increasing from 170 million to some 700 million, which has boosted economic development and social progress.
According to Li, China will pursue development in a scientific way, accelerate shift of the growth model and take urbanization as an important strategy for promoting modernization. China's urbanization aims to expand domestic demand and promote sustainable development. We should conserve and make efficient use of resources, protect natural ecology and distinctive cultural features, and promote coordinated development of large, medium-sized and small cities as well as small towns. China's urbanization aims to ensure coordinated development of industrialization and agricultural modernization. As we deepen industrialization and urbanization, we also need to advance agricultural modernization, increase input in agriculture and promote balanced urban and rural development. China's urbanization is people-oriented and aims to deliver equitable benefits to all. China is pursuing urbanization in an innovative way. We are endeavoring to build harmonious and livable modern cities, promote rural migrant population's integration into cities, deliver equal basic public services, including employment, education, medical care and health and social security, and we also give priority to building government subsidized housing. All these steps are taken to ensure that development benefits are enjoyed by all.
China-EU cooperation in urbanization has a long history, and much progress has been made in such cooperation. China and the EU are in different stages of urbanization, and each has its own strength and can benefit from cooperation with the other. Urbanization has the greatest potential for driving domestic demand in China. Resources and the environment are the most serious constraints to China's development. We need to pursue a path of urbanization suited to our own national conditions and draw on Europe's advanced ideas, technologies and managerial expertise to advance urbanization in an orderly way and tackle resource and environmental challenges. When "designed in Europe" is combined with "made in China" and when European technologies are applied in the Chinese market, there will be amazing results.
As we move on, China and the EU should take urbanization as a new platform and a new priority area in pursuing pragmatic cooperation, carry out cooperation in energy conservation, environmental protection and new energy sources on a priority basis, and share the enormous economic benefits of applying Europe's advanced technologies in China's urbanization. This will lend new impetus to China-EU cooperation. We hope Europe will be more flexible and open on the transfer of high technologies to China so as to tap into our respective strengths for mutual benefit.
Li Keqiang made proposals in three aspects: First, jointly promote green development. We are ready to enhance cooperation with the EU in new and renewable energies, energy conservation and environmental protection industries, circular economy and waste utilization and jointly build green and low-carbon cities. Second, deepen project cooperation. Both sides should open market wider to each other, strengthen IPR protection and improve the performance of cooperation. Third, strengthen exchanges in management. We are willing to step up exchanges and cooperation with Europe in terms of urban planning, management policies and cultural preservation to achieve sound urbanization.
Leaders of major EU agencies including Almunia suggested in their remarks that this meeting stood for a new landmark of China-EU cooperation on urbanization. China has begun a grand progress of urbanization, putting people in the first place and committed to balanced development of economy and society. European countries should grasp opportunities and share with China their advanced ideas, experiences and technologies in urban planning, energy conservation and environmental protection, low carbon and public services. China-EU partnership on urbanization is conducive to both China's sustainable development and EU's economic recovery. It will lead to new and substantial results of China-EU relationship.
Altogether 600 Chinese and EU representatives participated in the meeting.
Before the meeting, Li Keqiang met with Almunia, Ms. Mercedes Bresso, President of the Committee of the Regions, Mr. Staffan Nilsson, President of the European Economic and Social Committee and Mr. Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy and exchanged views with them on strengthening China-EU cooperation on urbanization.