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Europe needs to be a player, not a playing field, EU tells China

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Europe needs to be a player, not a playing field, EU tells China

Charles Michel - Photo © European Union 2020

(BRUSSELS) - The EU needs a balanced relationship with China, EU president Charles Michel told Chinese president Xi Monday in a summit which underlined differences over human rights, climate and trade issues.

The meeting was chaired M Michel on the EU side and President Xi on the Chinese side, with the participation of Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for the Council presidency.

The agenda of the summit covered trade and investment, climate change and biodiversity, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as international affairs and other issues.

Europe's message was clear, said M Michel: "we want a relationship with China that is based on reciprocity, responsibility, and basic fairness."

Grave concerns were raised over Hong Kong: "Democratic voices in Hong Kong should be heard, rights protected, and autonomy preserved," said M Michel: "We called on China to keep their promises to the people of Hong Kong and the international community."

With regard to the negotiations for an ambitious EU-China Comprehensive Investment Agreement (CAI), while both sides registered progress on the rules regulating the behaviour of State-owned-enterprises, on forced technology transfer and on transparency of subsidies, the EU emphasised that more work was urgently needed on the issues of rebalancing market access and on sustainable development.

The two sides reaffirmed their objective of closing the remaining gaps before the end of the year. The EU side emphasised that high-level political engagement would be required within the Chinese system to achieve a meaningful agreement.

On other trade and economic issues, the EU reiterated its call on China to engage in future negotiations on industrial subsidies in the WTO. The EU stressed that, in line with China's stated commitment to open up and ensure that EU producers are fairly treated on the Chinese market, more needed to be done to improve market access in the agri-food trade, financial services and the digital sector. The EU also again made clear its concerns on overcapacity, both in traditional sectors such as steel and aluminium as well as in high tech.

The two sides welcomed the signature of the EU-China Agreement on Geographical Indications which will improve access to the Chinese market especially for high-quality European agricultural products.

The EU underlined the need for reciprocity and a level playing field in the area of science and technology, underpinned by high ethical and integrity standards. Leaders welcomed and agreed to continue the high level digital dialogue. They looked forward to concrete progress on ICT standards, product safety and research and innovation.

On climate change and biodiversity, the EU encouraged China to strengthen its climate commitments in terms of peaking carbon dioxide emissions and setting the goal of climate neutrality domestically. The EU also stressed the importance of a moratorium in China of building coal-fired power plants and financing their construction abroad, at least as part of a global initiative. The EU also encouraged China to launch its national emission trading system soon. The two sides agreed to establish a High-Level Environment and Climate Dialogue to pursue ambitious joint commitments on these issues.

EU-China leaders' meeting via video conference, 14 September 2020 - main results

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