|Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao addresses the 8th EU-China Business Summit in Brussels, Belgium, Sept. 20, 2012. (Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)
BRUSSELS, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Thursday that his country is willing to work with the European Union (EU) to build their bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership into a model of international cooperation in the 21st century.
Wen made the remarks in an address to the 8th China-EU Business Summit, which was also attended by President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso.
The China-EU relationship is among the most important ones in the world, and is also a strategic priority of China's foreign policy, said the Chinese premier.
He noted that, as the most fruitful part of the China-EU relationship, two-way trade reached 567.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2011, representing an average annual increase of 20.8 percent since 2003.
The EU has been China's top trading partner for eight consecutive years, while China has become the EU's second largest trading partner, Wen added.
Meanwhile, the European bloc is also China's largest source of technology imports, with related contracts having aggregated 150 billion dollars, he said.
People-to-people exchanges have also become increasingly frequent, said Wen, noting that nearly 2 million Chinese went to Europe in 2011 for tourism and study, marking a fivefold increase since 2003.
Recalling the development of China-EU relations in the past ten years, Wen stressed that the development of bilateral ties has brought tangible benefits to both sides.
The two sides can properly resolve their disputes via negotiations, and the future-oriented bilateral relationship has a great prospect, added the Chinese leader.
In order to push forward bilateral cooperation, Wen said, the two sides should further promote trade and investment, boost collaboration in infrastructure, technological innovation and urbanization, and strengthen people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
China is a responsible long-term investor, and will continue to help settle the region's debt crisis through appropriate means, Wen said, while expressing his confidence that the EU has the ability and wisdom to properly handle the debt issue.
China and the EU need each other in the process of their development, and China is ready to work with European countries to share opportunities, meet common challenges and build the China-EU partnership into a model of international cooperation in the 21st century, Wen said.
The Chinese premier is in Brussels for the 15th China-EU summit and an official visit to Belgium.
Special Report: Premier Wen attends China-EU summit, visits Belgium