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0019b91ec74f10f9ff4e0dBy Liu Ge

The China-EU high-level People-to-People Dialogue Forum will be held in Beijing in September. Following Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent European trip, what specific measures can be taken to promote stronger education and cultural exchanges between China and Europe? And how will such communication benefit the comprehensive ties between the two sides? Brussels-based correspondent Liu Ge of the People’s Daily talked to Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Sport, Media and Youth Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou. 

Liu: As one of the most important pillars of China-EU relations, the China-EU High-Level People-to-People Dialogue (HPPD) has been running for almost two years since 2012. How would you evaluate its role? 

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Vassiliou: The EU-China High-Level People-to-People Dialogue constitutes what we call the 'third pillar' of EU-China relations, complementing the High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue and the High-Level Strategic Dialogue. Since its start, the HPPD has already launched a range of joint initiatives, including the EU-China Year of Intercultural Dialogue in 2012 and support for stronger co-operation between universities on the two sides.  The dialogue is helping build understanding and trust by bringing people together so that they can get to know each other's culture, share ideas and work together on   common projects. I think we are gradually developing a common language, if you like, while respecting our diversity.

In the past two years, what specific achievements have been made under the HPPD framework? 

In education, we have set up a Higher Education Platform for Cooperation and Exchange to tackle issues of mutual interest and share new ideas.  We have also implemented the China Tuning project, aimed at identifying and jointly defining learning outcomes so that we can better compare our education systems. This in turn will help students and teachers to move more easily between the two regions.  In the area of multilingualism, we have supported the training of 18 Chinese professors in lesser-spoken EU languages, and promoted the Chinese Interpreter Training Programme.  A language training scheme was also offered by the Chinese government to EU officials.  Some 30 officials took part in 2013, and a further 25 are expected to participate in 2014 and 2015 respectively. In culture, we funded a number of joint projects as part of the 2012 EU-China Year of Intercultural Dialogue, and organized an online EU Film Festival in China.  In the youth sector, we have organized joint seminars on youth work and entrepreneurship and have encouraged cooperation between organizations in the youth sector, such as the All China Youth Federation and the European Youth Forum, as well as their member organizations.

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As commissioner in charge of youth affairs in the EU, what is your perspective of the young generation in the EU and China?

Through the new programs and the follow-up of the HPPD and Higher Education Platform for Cooperation and Exchange, as well as, in particular, the China   Tuning project, we will open up new opportunities for the young generation in both the EU and China.  China and the EU will also expand opportunities for mobility in education and increase the number of exchanges of students, academics as well as researchers. We will   work together to improve the mutual recognition of academic qualifications. This will help open the minds and horizons of both Chinese and EU youth, through a better understanding of each other and enhanced language and intercultural skills. Ultimately this leads to better employment opportunities. The 2011 EU-China Year of Youth already included seven flagship events, 27 joint youth projects and hundreds of other activities aimed at creating partnership and friendship. The same is true for the 40-plus joint co-operation projects funded under the Youth in Action Program in the past three years. We will continue to promote this approach. We look forward to welcoming more Chinese students to Europe over the next few years, and we hope that a large number of Europeans will come to China and expand   their horizons as a result.

You will visit China to chair the second Meeting of the HPPD in Beijing. What are your goals for this important meeting? What do you expect to achieve during your trip to China? 

The second round of the HPPD will take stock of our achievements so far and agree on future action. The dialogue will help promote the EU's new programs for education, training and youth and the parts of the new Horizon 2020 research program under my responsibility. We will discuss higher education internationalization strategies, fine-tune our approach to cultural diplomacy and promote the contribution of culture to local development.

China

Climate Action: EU-China joint press communiqué on the fight against climate change ahead of COP26

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Following their second high-level environment and climate dialogue on 27 September 2021, Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans and Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China Han Zheng reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement and a successful outcome of the COP26 in Glasgow. In a joint press release, they stressed the urgency to act immediately, notably in the light of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They also confirmed that that the high-level environment and climate dialogue will continue to be a key platform between the EU and China to enhance actions and bilateral cooperation on environment and in the fight against climate change. During their last meeting, they discussed various aspects of the global climate and biodiversity crises, with a focus on the forthcoming UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow and on COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming. More details on the discussion are available here

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China lodges stern representations with Australia on Taiwan comments

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The Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday (11 October) that China has lodged stern representations with Australia over "inappropriate" comments by former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott about Taiwan, write Yew Lun Tian and Ryan Woo, Reuters.

Abbott last week visited Taiwan, which is claimed by China, in a personal capacity, met Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, and told a security forum that China may lash out with its economy slowing and finances "creaking". Read more.

"The relevant words and actions by the Australian politician go against the One China Principle and send a seriously wrong signal," Zhao Lijian, a spokesman at the Chinese foreign ministry, told a regular media briefing. "China is firmly opposed to this. We have made stern representations to Australia."

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Corruption in China’s chamber of justice

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The CCP’s former justice minister Fu Zhenghua is now under probe for serious disciplinary violations - he had previously launched a politically motivated prosecution against prominent dissident Guo Wengui AKA Miles Kwok, writes Louis Auge.

In recent days the Chinese Communist Party has signalled its intention to pursue its anti-corruption efforts even amidst the higher echelons of the ruling party’s legal and judicial spheres. The campaign, launched by President Xi Jinping in 2018 with the slogan "Saohei chu'e," meaning "sweep away black and eliminate evil", has targeted a staggering number of purportedly corrupt state actors over the course of the past three years.

China's legislature has hailed the campaign as a huge success – having exposed almost 40,000 alleged criminal cells and corrupt companies, and more than 50,000 Communist Party and government officials having been punished for allegedly abetting them, according to official statistics. And Beijing is showing no signs of slowing down its pursuit of individuals they perceive to have fallen foul of the system – even at the top.

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In what is being perceived as the latest show of China's iron fist against corruption in the political and legal system, over the weekend it was announced that Fu Zhenghua, the deputy director of the social and legal affairs committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) - China's top political advisory body - is under disciplinary and supervisory investigation for suspected violations of CCP protocol.

Before taking up his post at the CPPCC, Mr. Fu had served as justice minister and deputy police chief for the Beijing municipal police department, where he was praised by the CCP hierarchy for cracking down on the city's sex industry, earning himself a promotion to executive vice minister for public security.

He was also known for cracking down on prominent and successful families. In 2014, Mr. Fu a conducted what many critics perceived to be politically motivated prosecution against Guo Wengui AKA Miles Kwok, a high profile CCP dissident now living in exile in the United States. Mr. Kwok subsequently revealed that Mr. Fu had ordered an investigation into the family finances of Wang Qishan, the country’s current Vice President, causing rumours to swirl about Mr. Fu’s political future.

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The allegations against him failed to stick however – with Mr. Fu going on to be promoted to the position of Minister of Justice – but his path up the CCP power ranks now appears to have run out of road. He is not the only high ranking official to feel the wrath of Beijing recently. News of the investigation came just days after the CCP announced it was expelling former vice minister of public security Sun Lijun, having accusing him of "forming cliques and cabals to take over a key department," and of keeping a private collection of confidential documents.

Regarding Mr. Fu, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) - the ruling Communist Party's anti-corruption watchdog - announced simply that he is under investigation for "serious violations of party discipline and law." The one-sentence statement did not offer any further details into the indictment.

According to CNN, the announcement was welcomed by a wide range of figures online, from rank-and-file police officers and prison guards to investigative journalists, human rights lawyers and intellectuals. No doubt outspoken CCP critics such as Mr. Kwok will also have felt vindicated by the development, to say the least.

In recent months President Xi has stepped up his party’s clamp down on rising political stars and overly powerful officials. However what is unusual about the fate of Mr. Fu's is how loudly and widely – in other words, unanimously – it is being celebrated, both by people working for the regime, and by those who have been subject to its repression.

Following news of his downfall, several veteran investigative journalists said on social media they had been targeted by Mr. Fu for their hard-hitting reports, on topics ranging from illegal detention of petitioners to local government corruption.

"The targets of Fu Zhenghua's crackdown are people at the core of China's civil society. Therefore, the country's whole intellectual sector and the wider public are all thrilled by (his fall from grace)," said Wu Qiang, a political analyst in Beijing. "His rise to power represented the aggressive iron-fist approach that has shaped China's governance over the past decade."

Mr. Fu's aggressive approach was also applied to police officers and prison guards, many of whom have been celebrating his downfall on social media. Comments make reference to Mr. Fu’s imposition of draconian working conditions for entry-level officers, such as not allowing prison guards to take breaks during night shifts.

Some analysts have suggested that this series of recent purges demonstrate declining trust from the Chinese leadership in the country's domestic security agencies. In the words of Wu Qiang, “It is very difficult for Beijing to have political trust. This is the biggest crisis in its governance". For critics such as Miles Kwok, it is also a sign of that the fractures within the centre of the ruling party are beginning to widen. Whether it is chasm that can be bridged is anyone’s guess.

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