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China’s EV architect says that investments in Europe represent a way forward for both parties.

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China’s EV architect says that investments in Europe represent a way forward for both parties.

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The architect of China’s electric vehicle development strategy said on Wednesday that Chinese investments in Europe’s electric vehicle industry could be a path forward for both parties amid trade tensions, CNBC reports.

“I believe the governments [of China and the European Union] are now considering how, through negotiations, they can combine investment together with commodity trade,” said Wan Gang, now president of the China Association for Science and Technology.

Wan spoke through an official English translation during a live stream panel at the World Economic Forum’s “Summer Davos” meeting in Dalian, China.

Spokespersons for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Commission were not immediately available when contacted by CNBC.

China’s Ministry of Commerce announced over the weekend that it is launching consultations with the EU regarding the bloc’s investigation into the role of subsidies for Chinese electric vehicles.

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Earlier this month, the EU announced it would increase tariffs on vehicle imports.

“Even though we are not exporting a large number of EVs, perhaps the Chinese companies can try investing in Europe,” Wan said, noting that such funding could create local jobs.

Wan became China’s Minister of Science and Technology around 2007 and is known for leading the country’s early push into electric vehicles.

He said that when China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, he had already been working in Germany for about 15 years, including at Audi, and had experienced several periods of oil price volatility.

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Wan added that 2001 was also the year China set the goal of developing a “moderately prosperous society,” meaning every family would soon have its own car.

But fuel-powered vehicles would put pressure on Beijing to ensure a stable gasoline supply for consumers, while pollution would increase, Wan estimated at the time. He argued that China was not thinking of competing with anyone when developing its electric vehicle strategy, but rather considering its own survival.

The U.S. increased tariffs on Chinese electric vehicle imports this year amid growing criticism of Beijing’s policies favoring domestic producers over foreign companies.

Wan said China asked him to return from Germany and begin researching electric vehicles over 20 years ago. Around 2010, he said Chinese cities faced severe air pollution problems, prompting local efforts to switch to electricity, starting with buses and taxis.

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This year, new energy vehicles – a category that includes battery-powered and hybrid cars – accounted for more than a third of new passenger cars sold in China, according to data from a local passenger association.

However, Wan said electric vehicle manufacturers still need to do more to alleviate drivers’ anxiety – such as allowing vehicles to know when and where to automatically charge – and improve road safety through driver assistance technology.

He said electric vehicle development is “an irreversible trend” for the world, noting that “we must be fully determined to move forward despite the vicissitudes.”

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