00:25 GMT +312 November 2019
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    Visitors walk under flags of European Union and China in front of The Tiananmen Gate in Beijing (File)

    'It's Up to Them': Amid 'Two-Speed Europe' Talk, China Pledges Support for EU

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    Chinese Premier Li Keqiang recently said that Beijing is interested in a single and integrated EU, a statement that came as many have started to favor altering the supranational union and establishing a so-called "two-speed Europe."

    Speaking at a press conference in Beijing on March 15, Premier Li Keqiang said that China has always backed and will continue to contribute to a single, prosperous and stable EU.

    According to him, China stands for integration processes in Europe, believing that the EU's united position "will have a positive impact on globalization and the multipolar world."

    In an interview with Sputnik China, Nikolai Kaveshnikov, an expert on European integration from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, specifically drew attention to the fact that Premier Li Keqiang made the statement in the wake of Brexit and amid a number of other disintegration processes in the EU.

    At the same time, Li Keqiang's statement comes as the concept of a so-called two-speed Europe becomes one of the main directions for the development of the EU, Kaveshnikov commented.

    The expert believes that given these conditions, it is extremely important for China to see Europe integrated.

    "China is interested in a single Europe because it wants stability for its trade and financial ties with Europe. Such stability can only be ensured by keeping the EU as a single economic entity in the international arena," Kaveshnikov said.

    He added that the development of a two-speed Europe will not pose any serious challenge to China, as it will affect neither the single domestic market nor the common trade policy and mechanisms of the monetary union.

    "The emerging core of the EU is likely to increase its activity in the field of political cooperation and a currency union. But no one in the EU puts into question the unity of the internal market and the trade policy," Kaveshnikov pointed out. 

    He was echoed by Alexander Sergunin, an International Relations professor at St. Petersburg University, who told Sputnik China that "Beijing will feel uncomfortable if the EU starts to disintegrate because it will lead to emergence of too many entities that Beijing will have to agree with."

    "As for a two-speed Europe, China's very flexible policy will be adjusted to any model of the EU's existence. I do not see it as a special challenge. And the Chinese themselves say that this is the Europeans' internal affair and that it's up to them," Sergunin said.

    He also pointed to the fact that "China pursues a very diversified policy" and that 'Beijing does not have any universal approach to relations with the EU."

    "China differentiates these approaches depending on the policy areas and the countries that Beijing deals with," Sergunin added.

    Xu Feibiao, an associate professor with the Beijing-based  Chinese Institute of Modern International Relations, also pointed to China's support for the development of a two-speed Europe.

    "China sticks to the position pertaining to its unchanged vision of a stable, united and thriving Europe. Because if you disintegrate the EU, it will not only damage Europe itself, but it will also deal a blow to China and even the entire global economy. Bejing is unwilling to see such a scenario," Feibiao said.

    He added that "adhering to such a policy is the internal affair of European states" and that "China respects their choice."  Feibiao emphasized that China remains "optimistic about the future of the development of Europe."

    Earlier, the South China Morning Post quoted Chinese expert Wang Yiwei as saying that China continues to believe in the EU despite Brexit.

    According to him, "China's support is of importance to the EU even if it is only a gesture. The EU should know about it. How bad it could be if China joined the US to try to undermine the alliance that is already hanging on a thread."

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