The European Union (EU) should look at China with a fair and open mind, instead of through the lens of ideology, Chinese ambassador to the bloc has said.
Ambassador Zhang Ming, head of the Chinese Mission to the EU, rammed home this message Wednesday at the meeting of the Delegation for Relations with China of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
"We need to have greater mutual trust. China always supports the European integration process, and supports a united, stable and prosperous EU in playing a bigger role in global affairs," he said in a speech to the delegation members.
Casting light on why China didn't go for the western-style political system after 40 years of reform and opening-up -- a question puzzled "some European friends", Zhang said: "China has a five-thousand-year history and more than 1.3 billion people. Our past and current circumstances are so unique that we must follow a path of development that is unique to China."
"Our successful practice is a proof that there is more than one path leading to modernization," he underlined.
The year 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up policy, which has been behind China's robust growth over the past four decades.
"At 40, a man has no more doubts," Zhang quoted the watchword of the great Chinese philosopher Confucius, stressing that there is no doubt about China's commitment to following through on the reform and opening-up, which he hailed as "game-changer" policy for China.
"As China's reform and opening-up shows stronger momentum, it is advisable for the EU to seize the opportunities and work with China to expand cooperation," Zhang said, specifically calling for "faster progress in creating synergy between Europe's development strategies with the Belt and Road initiative."
Beyond bilateral relations, he said China and the EU have a joint responsibility to preserve the rules-based multilateral trading system, as both sides are beneficiaries and contributors to free trade.
"All of us are like passengers on the same boat. If someone tries to drill a hole in the boat, it is imperative for everyone else to act in unity to stop the move, for the good of themselves, if not for others," he said.
Underlining the importance of a stable China-EU relationship in the context of international uncertainties, he called for speeding up the Bilateral Investment Treaty talks "to unleash more potential for two-way investment", and "make it easier for Chinese and European enterprises to enter each other's market."