Commercial relations between China and the EU have demonstrated consistent growth even as global problems like the Covid-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine persisted.

Freight train services between China and Europe have remained stable in the first six months of the year, according to China State Railway Group Co. data reported by the Chinese state-owned news agency, Xinhua.

In comparison, the China-Europe freight train service ran 15,000 trips in 2021, carrying goods equivalent to 1.46 million pieces of 20-foot container units - and was on the rise from the previous year. 

The China-Europe freight train service counts 82 routes that reach 200 cities in 24 European countries, according to the company.

"Especially during this difficult times, when we also struggle with the congestion of some sea routes, the China-Europe freight train service still functions effectively," Axel Mattern, chief executive officer of Port of Hamburg Marketing, told the Chinese state news agency.

Earlier this week, Chinese President Xi Jinping met French President Emmanuel Macron, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, reiterating China’s willingness to strengthen trade relations with the 27-state bloc going forward, despite global tensions.

Trading partners

In 2021, China was the third largest partner for EU exports (10,2 percent) and the largest for EU imports of goods (22,4 percent). In the same year, Germany was the largest exporter of goods to China, while the Netherlands was the largest importer.

In 2021, bilateral trade volume exceeded US $800 bn for the first time, while investments exceeded $270 bn in cumulative terms, Xinhua reported. 

In the first eight months of 2022, total trade between China and the EU amounted to $575.22 bn, up 8.8 percent year on year, the agency reported a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson as saying.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has faced criticism in Europe for emphasising business ties between his country and China despite the global geopolitical context. He also came under fire recently for allegedly supporting a Chinese investment project in Hamburg port.

Michael Kruse, head of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in Hamburg, called the ties "dangerous", while conservative foreign policy expert Juergen Hardt said it would enable China to gain access to "sensitive internal insights".

"This is exactly what we should not serve up to the Chinese on a silver platter," Hardt told Die Welt newspaper.

At a meeting in Brussels earlier this month, EU leaders reaffirmed China is a partner on certain global issues such as climate change, but also a competitor and systemic rival. They stressed that the EU can no longer be "naive" about China.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies