The European Union has laid out a new roadmap for establishing a closer political and economic relationship with China over the next half-decade.
A joint communication has been adopted by the European Commission entitled 'Elements for a new EU strategy on China', which identifies a number of major opportunities to expand EU-China dealings to create jobs and growth, while opening up of the Chinese market to European businesses.
For example, the EU is hoping to agree an ambitious and comprehensive agreement on investment and a Chinese contribution to the Investment Plan for Europe, as well as establishing joint research and innovation activities and connecting to the Eurasian continent via a physical and digital network.
In the longer term, a free trade agreement may be considered, assuming that reforms to level the playing field for domestic and foreign companies can be introduced, particularly in terms of cuts to China's industrial overcapacity - notably in the steel sector - to prevent negative consequences from unfair competition.
Efforts will also be made to further strengthen the effectiveness of the EU's Trade Defence Instruments, while the EU will continue to support China's economic and social reform programme to drive the elimination of state-induced economic distortions and the reformation of state-owned enterprises.
Additionally, the joint communication highlighted a number of opportunities for closer cooperation and partnership between the EU and China in the fields of foreign and security policy, and it will be presented to the European Council and European Parliament for further consideration.
Federica Mogherini, high representative and vice president for foreign affairs and security policy at the European Commission, said: "The EU and China already cooperate on so much: we work together on the global and political issues of our times, such as Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, migration and climate change.
"But we can and must do more to connect the EU and China. Our citizens, industries and organisations can all benefit from a closer, improved and better-defined EU-China relationship based on shared responsibility."