Beijing, 3. November 2003 - Minister for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner kicked off her visit to China today by meeting for talks with the Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing in Beijing. The political discussions focussed on the recent EU-China Summit in Beijing (30 October 2003), the reform of the United Nations and the situations in the Middle East, Iran and Iraq, as well as on bilateral matters and human rights issues.
During their talks, the two Foreign Ministers agreed that relations between the People’s Republic of China and the EU had never been so good as they are today. The first "EU Policy Paper" published by the Chinese Ministry for Foreign Affairs in mid-October emphasises the great importance China attaches to the further development of her relations with Europe. "This was impressively confirmed at the EU-China Summit in Beijing last week. The Country Strategy Paper for China presented by the EU, which we EU Foreign Ministers adopted at our Council meeting in Luxembourg on 13/14 October, is also an affirmation that China has become an important strategic partner for the EU", stated Ferrero-Waldner. In the opinion of the two Foreign Ministers, the signing of the agreement on China’s participation in the European satellite navigation system Galileo is also an important milestone which has set the course for closer cooperation in the field of high technology.
In this context Ferrero-Waldner also pointed out that following the successful ratification of the Approved Destination Status Agreement at last week’s EU-China Summit, it will soon be possible for Chinese tour groups to visit all EU Member States. "This will bring China and the EU closer together at the human contact level. Within the next five years the EU will become China’s biggest trading and investment partner. But Austria also greatly welcomes the expansion of our scientific, technological and cultural cooperation along the lines of a true strategic partnership, as provided for in the respective position papers", continued the Foreign Minister.
Regarding the reform of the UN Security Council, both Foreign Ministers shared the UN Secretary-General’s view that reform of the Security Council is of major importance for the future effectiveness and relevance of the United Nations organisation. "We look forward with interest to the results of the work of the high-ranking panel initiated by the UN Secretary-General. However, as in any constitutional debate - and, after all, this is a matter that affects all the world’s citizens - a wide-reaching exchange of opinion with a firm basis in all societies and academic and scientific structures is absolutely essential. In this context, it is important to develop general policy criteria for the charter. By general criteria we mean principles such as representativeness, electoral legitimacy, responsibility vis-à-vis the international community of states, which after all sends delegates to this supreme body of the United Nations, and effectiveness of the decision-making processes - that is to say, certain basic principles with regard to the size of the body and its decision-making capability are of essential importance", concluded Ferrero-Waldner.