China and the European Union should work together to develop the multilateral trading system.[Photo/IC] China and the European Union should work together to develop the multilateral trading system, and strengthen unity and trust among the members of the World Trade Organization, the Ministry of Commerce said on Friday. China and the EU are partners, not rivals, and cooperation is far greater than competition, the ministry's spokesperson said in an online statement. The official stressed that although the social systems and economic models of the two sides are different, this doesn't prevent the two parties from developing mutually beneficial cooperation. The ministry made the remarks after the European Commission published on Feb 18 its new trade strategy titled Trade Policy Review－An Open, Sustainable and Assertive Trade Policy. The document said "the rapid rise of China has demonstrated global ambition and pursued a unique model of state capitalism that has fundamentally changed the global economic and political order". The EU document claimed that "this poses increasing challenges to the established global economic governance system". The EU's claim doesn't conform to the facts, and it is groundless to blame the crisis of the WTO on China's pace of transforming into a market economy. China is firmly opposed to such claims, according to the Ministry of Commerce. The official outlined that China is building a socialist market economy in an all-around way so that the market will play a decisive role in the allocation of resources and the government's role will be better brought into play. Practices have proved that China's economic governance system conforms to the country's actual conditions, and has contributed Chinese wisdom to global economic governance in many ways. China has always been an active participant, staunch supporter and important contributor to the development of the WTO. Unilateralism and protectionism are the causes of the current WTO crisis, according to the ministry. China is willing to strengthen dialogue with the EU in 2021, deepen cooperation, properly handle differences, and promote stable and long-term China-EU economic and trade ties, said the spokesperson. The country hopes that the EU will continue to support free trade and multilateralism, and work with China to jointly resist unilateralism and protectionism, as well as promote the early recovery of the world economy. China became the largest trading partner of the EU, with bilateral trade volume increasing 5.3 percent to 4.5 trillion yuan ($695.50 billion) in 2020, data from the General Administration of Customs showed. Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing, said that market forces, rather than the will of the authorities, have played a decisive role in the steady progress of China-EU economic and trade cooperation in recent years. "The deepened cooperation between China and the EU, reflected by their trade volume expansion, is based on market demand, as enterprises from both sides seek business opportunities in each other's market," he said.