The debt crisis, while making schedules tight for many European leaders, is not to hamper the cultural exchanges between Europe and China, said Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, in an interview with Xinhua on Friday.
"It is absolutely necessary for us, in our relations with our strategic partners, to encourage these cultural exchanges and cultural relations," Vassiliou said. "So, despite the crisis, I think we should continue to encourage these exchanges between European Union (EU) and China."
"Let us not forget that our cultural and creative industries participate to a great extent to the economy and to our growth and therefore it is not a paying proposition to cut budgets on culture, " she said. "On the contrary, we have to encourage these cultures and these industries because they contribute to job creation and development and growth."
Vassiliou said she highly appreciated the outcomes of EU-China cooperation in culture, education and youth.
Last year, the EU-China High-Level Culture Forum was first launched in Brussels, and both sides decided then to make it an annual event.
China and EU member states saw the beginning of their mutual Year of Youth in February this year. This largest-ever cultural exchange program was the first themed year event between them since China and the EU forged diplomatic ties in 1975.
"We're not starting from scratch. We've already set the basis for this cooperation," Vassiliou said.
She said the EU and China were planning to launch a new EU- China High-Level People-to-People Dialogue, which "will become the Third Pillar between the two partners, building on two previous cooperation agreements - the High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue and the High-Level Strategic Dialogue."
Despite all the positive developments, Vassiliou made it clear that she was concerned about the imbalance of China-EU cultural and education exchanges.
Over the past decade, more than 2,000 Chinese students have benefited from Erasmus Mundus grants, an EU scholarship program, to study in the EU. Meanwhile, only 200 EU students went to China.
"Certainly, we have to face these imbalances that existed in the past," she said. "We are going to adopt new joint scholarship scheme in order to face this imbalance because we want to encourage more European young people to go to China for their studies, as we have done already in the course of the language exchange."
Looking forward to the future development of cultural links between Europe and China, the Commissioner mentioned the China-EU Intercultural Dialogue Year scheduled for next year. She said she was confident that the new event will provide a lot of opportunities for many associations, civil societies and politicians to meet and exchange ideas.