In-depth party-to-party exchanges and dialogue between China and Europe should play a unique role in narrowing differences and enhancing the Sino-European comprehensive strategic partnership, a senior official of the Communist Party of China said on Thursday.
Yu Xiaoxuan, deputy director of the Western European Affairs Bureau of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks ahead of the opening of the fourth China-Europe High-Level Political Parties Forum, which will take place in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, from April 22 to 23.
"The forum will address common concerns that reflect the new dynamics of China-European cooperation, and we hope the pragmatic cooperation will benefit the two sides," she said.
The 18th CPC National Congress urged the synchronized development of industrialization, IT application, urbanization and agricultural modernization, which provide many new avenues for cooperation, she said.
The forum, initiated by the CPC, was first held in Beijing in 2010, when China marked the 35th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties with the European Economic Community, the predecessor to the present-day European Union. The forum is one of more than 60 dialogue mechanisms that now exist between the two sides.
Leaders of 43 political parties from 26 European countries will participate in the forum. One party group from the European Parliament and representatives of three European think tanks will also attend, along with former Italian prime minister Massimo D'Alema.
Some of the parties from major European countries, such as the Social Democratic Party of Germany, are coming to the forum for the first time, Yu added, as more political parties find the forum an exceptional and unique channel to be able to hear different voices beyond simply having bilateral dialogues.
"There are no sensitive topics that we cannot put on the table, and we welcome diverging views and brainstorming," Yu said.
The Party would like to hold frank exchanges with European parties about subjects in which they are interested, such as human rights, democracy and religion, which, she said, are also China's concerns.
At the same time, the Chinese side also would like to discuss some emerging issues related to Europe's development, such as the widening gap between rich and poor, the increase in some social conflicts and racial integration. "We want to know the reasons behind these phenomena and their thoughts on solutions," she said.
Recognizing the marked disparities between the two sides in cultural traditions, ideologies, religious beliefs and developmental level, Yu said a forum like this serves as a platform to discuss differences face to face in an open and forthright manner.
"And only these discussions (of views) can help narrow the differences and deepen trust," she said.
Yu added that the CPC is always keen to learn from the advanced governing experience of European political parties, and that interest in the CPC has increased in Europe, especially after the leadership transition.
Dick Roche, vice-president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party, said while attending last year's forum that it is important to overcome stereotyped thinking, to try to show humility in analyzing China's achievements, and realize that there is much room for cooperation.
The two sides have general and specific solutions they can work on to deal with their common challenges. During the upcoming forum, there will also be sideline events, such as exhibitions and tours to help European representatives to know more about China, Yu said.
They will be able to visit a Sino-German industrial park in Taicang, Jiangsu province, as well as a local community in Suzhou with around 6,000 households, in which they can have a closer look at how local innovation is helping to solve problems in caring for the aging population - in this case, by building an online service network to visit and help take care of the elderly.
The CPC is now in contact with more than 600 political parties and organizations in more than 160 countries and regions.