When China and Europe join hands in global trade and investment, it means an economic relationship with two billion people involved. That's around 28 percent of the world's population.
Data from China's Commerce Ministry shows that the total trade volume between China and Europe has gone higher than 500 billion U.S. dollars for three consecutive years.
There have been some recent disputes between these two economies but the Commerce Ministry doesn't seem too concerned. That's because the ministry believes that with the amount of total trade volume, it's normal to have disagreements. The most important thing is to handle the disputes properly and have the consensus that both sides can significantly benefit from the relationship.
Europe seems to share that attitude - "not only a long history, but also a promising future," as Jose Barroso, President of the European Commission says.
There are three key dates regarding the development of the investment relationship between China and Europe. The first is February 2012, when a deal to launch investment agreement negotiations was reached at the EU-China Summit during that period. Last October was important, too, because that was when the European Union's member states gave the European Commission a negotiating mandate. The launch of negotiations was announced the following month at the 16th EU-China Summit.
And now, it comes to today - the first round of investment negotiations between China and the European Commission. The significance? China used to hold similar negotiations with individual European countries. But this time, the talks are between China and the entire European Union.
"China and the EU have officially launched negotiations over an investment agreement, and will actively explore the possibility of a free trade agreement. We have also set the goal of reaching one trillion U.S. dollars in bilateral trade by 2020," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said.
Both sides have expressed willingness to make the deal happen, so that they can build a stable, transparent and predictable environment for future investment and trade activities.
It seems that China and Europe are doing well at the beginning of this year. And with Europe gaining steam with its economic recovery, it looks like a positive beginning for the next decade of China-Europe ties.