Digital Hamburg Summit highlights EU-China relations post pandemic

7 December 2021
Chamber of Commerce hosting European-Chinese conference

The state of the EU’s relations with China in the wake of the pandemic took centre stage during the recently-ended digital Hamburg Summit 2021 in the Chamber of Commerce. The invitees included Liu He, China's Vice Premier, Peter Altmaier, Germany's Managing Minister for Economics, and Josep Borrell, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Around 350 delegates in business, the political sphere and science attended the first digital edition of the biennial conference. 

Summit to boost EU-China relations 

It was no secret that relations between the EU and China had been "difficult" in 2021, Borrell remarked. Initiatives such as the Hamburg Summit are all the more important. "They offer Europeans and Chinese a space to talk to each other and try to understand each other's point of view. It is important to look for common ground, if possible, and to resolve differences of opinion, if necessary." "A 'level playing field', open markets and compliance with sustainability standards are crucial to increase the success of our co-operation in the long term," Altmaier stressed.

Talks crucial in wake of pandemic 

Norbert Aust, President of Hamburg's Chamber of Commerce, reiterated the importance of talks between the EU and China. The triangular relationship triangle between China, the EU and the United Shapes will shape the coming decades, he noted. Robert Lorenz-Meyer, Conference Chairman, added: "The pandemic has shown how closely Europe and China are linked economically. We see this very clearly in port handling here in Hamburg. We must outline our interests more clearly in future talks with China to strengthen our relations in the long term."

China - key trading partner for Hamburg

Hamburg and China have had trade links since the 18th century. The city forged a partnership with the Port of Shanghai in 1986 and followed this up with the Hamburg Liaison Office (HLO) there in 1995. China is still considered Hamburg's strongest trading partner. "Hamburg is the gateway to China," said Dr Peter Tschentscher, Mayor of Hamburg, at the summit. Every third container in the Port of Hamburg comes from China or is en route there. "The open talks on a sustainable economy and trade between China and Europe strengthen our co-operation," he noted.


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