Europeans and Chinese know very little about each other’s lives. During a recent China-EU forum the European Commission said it wanted to connect the two cultures and nurture a better understanding. Other topics discussed was european youth organisations working with China on climate issues and sustainability.
Kamile Klapatauskaite, a Youth Worker from Lithuania, welcomed the opportunity: “Personally it think it is important to have as many meetings like this one, as possible, to bring people together and build connections. So you could have friends in China and somebody to talk to, to communicate with. This is what I did. I went to China and now I have quite a few friends there and they have visited me in Lithuania and I am fascinated by that. I think we have to start not with institutions but with the people and this is what we are doing.”
There are many areas in which Europe and China can cooperate, but there are obviously differences too. And although most people agree on the need for dialogue, not everyone is comfortable with the Chinese political system.
Sinologist Catherine Vuylsteke explained: “Dialogue is always important because it is the only instrument we have. All other alternatives would be violent and that I think, should not be condoned in any way. But when talking we should also remain sincere and we should not act as if there are no problems and as if the whole political system and the authoritarian Chinese system didn’t exist, whereas it is and it really permeates all levels of society, all levels of organisation – be it social, culture life, or economics. Everything is politics in China, absolutely everything.”
Politics was an important part of the China- EU Forum. Chinese state councillor Liu Yandong (a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China) met European commissioner Androulla Vassiliou to sign agreements on education.