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Brexit overshadows EU-China meeting

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Brexit overshadows EU-China meeting

Donald Tusk - Xi Jinping - Photo EU Council

(BEIJING) - The 18th bilateral summit between the EU and China got under way in Beijing Tuesday, Awith Brexit overshadowing discussions on political and economic relations as well as global and regional issues.

The Summit agenda included human rights, the global refugee crisis, climate change, investment, over-capacity in the steel industry and the debate on market economy status for China.

The summit, which comes in the year of China's Presidency of the G20, follows the shock of the UK's Brexit referendum result.

In his opening remarks, EU president Donald Tusk took the opportunity to underline the importance of collaboration in tackling global issues such as migration, international development assistance, the environment and the fight against climate change.

While saying the EU wanted to discuss the common challenges "in a friendly manner", he stressed that "protection of the rule-based international order" was one of the challenges. In the wake of today's ruling by an international tribunal that China's claims to rights in the South China Sea had no legal basis, he repeated the EU's belief that "the rule-based international order is in our common interest and both China and the EU have to protect it, as this is in our people's best interest."

Mr Tusk also stressed the importance for the European Union of freedom of the press, freedom of expression, association and assembly, including for minorities, and looked forward to the next session of the human rights dialogue due to take place in November in Brussels.

China accounting for a fifth of all EU imports in 2015, and is the second largest EU partner for exports in 2015 (9.5% of all exports), after the United States. The EU's trade in goods balance with China in 2015 showed a deficit of EUR 180 billion.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, also speaking at the summit, vowed despite "losing one of our Member States after the British referendum" to "continue with our project". He said the EU was determined in these "turbulent times" to forge a "strong partnership" with China.

EU-China summit, Beijing, 12-13/07/2016

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