NEW DELHI, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- Chinese and European leaders engaged in robust discussions on the sidelines of the two-day Group of Twenty (G20) Summit in New Delhi, seeking to promote a steady development of the relationship between the two sides.
On Saturday afternoon, Chinese Premier Li Qiang met with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, whose country enjoys a 19-year-old comprehensive strategic partnership with China. Li talked with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the same day, marking their second meeting in about five months.
Li's participation in the G20 summit was part of his second foreign trip as China's premier. In June, Li visited Germany and France, which unleashed great potential for stronger China-Europe ties.
Shortly after attending the summit's third session Sunday, Li met with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, which was the first face-to-face talk between a Chinese premier and a British prime minister in nearly five years. Later in the day, Li had his second meeting in about three months with European Council President Charles Michel.
Wang Peng, an observer of Europe and a research fellow at the Institute of State Governance, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, stressed that these efforts would bring new energy to China-Europe cooperation and promote global security and economic growth.
For Wang, the European Union wants to foster comprehensive cooperation with China yet faces constraints and interference from the United States. Similarly, over the past several years, China-Britain relations have encountered difficulties due to the UK's domestic political obstacles and external interference.
Wang added that these factors contributed to the value of China-Europe interactions during the summit.
According to an analysis of Chinese media reports of the four meetings, the top three high-frequency words used were "cooperation," "respect" and "disagreements."
When meeting with Meloni, Li called on both sides to strengthen cooperation and make good use of such cooperation mechanisms as the Joint Meeting of the China-Italy Government Committee to upgrade the level of bilateral cooperation.
Affari Italiani, a website specializing in geopolitical issues, emphasized that nothing should "cast doubt on the level of agreement between Rome and Beijing or the common intention to consolidate and deepen the dialogue on key bilateral and international issues."
"Italy knows that it needs to work intensely with China ... We need an instrument to help ties between Italy and China continue to strengthen," Mario Boselli, president of Italy China Council Foundation, has told Xinhua.
Li told Michel and Von der Leyen that China's development presents an opportunity rather than a risk to Europe, with Von der Leyen echoing on X, formerly known as Twitter, that "China has a key role to play in our collective efforts to find solutions to global challenges."
As for Britain, the Chinese side urged London to maintain cooperation while properly handling disagreements and respecting each other's core interests and major concerns.
China is ready to work with Britain to adhere to mutual respect, treat each other as equals, view each other's development objectively, enhance mutual understanding and trust, and promote the steady and long-term development of China-Britain relations, Li told Sunak.
Sunak had sent his Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, to Beijing less than two weeks before meeting with Li.
"It is good that this meeting has happened. It has been testing for the prime minister (Sunak) to lead to this event," Stephen Perry, chairman of Britain's 48 Group Club, told Xinhua Sunday.
"The British economy is in difficulty. It has very difficult choices to make," he added.
"China's premier did not offer inducements. He merely presented the option of choosing the future. The British will have to make their own decision," said Perry.
"Although China and Britain have different national conditions and paths of development, they can set aside some of their political and strategic differences and seek more economic and trade cooperation," said Hui Ching, research director at Hong Kong Zhi Ming Institute.
Hui said that resolving challenges in China-Britain relations largely depends on whether the British government can effectively counter domestic biases and the extreme mindset of politicians regarding China.
"Changing to a globally inclusive approach will not be easy," Perry noted. ■