Sunday, July 5 2020

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With ties in the balance, EU and China hold tense summit

Update: June, 22/2020 - 11:17

 

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang will be Beijing's main representative at a video summit with the EU that faces a thicket of disagreements on trade, investment, human rights and national security. — AFP/VNA Photo

BRUSSELS — Chinese leaders and senior EU officials hold a video summit Monday with tensions rising over new tariffs targeting Chinese firms and European disquiet at Beijing's assertiveness on the world stage.

The heads of the EU's main institutions will discuss the coronavirus with top Chinese leaders, after Brussels infuriated Beijing by accusing it of a campaign of disinformation around the pandemic.

The EU will be represented by European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen.

Premier Li Keqiang will be the main Chinese representative and President Xi Jinping is also expected to make a video statement.

China and the EU both say they want to strengthen ties, but the relationship is tangled in a thicket of disagreements on topics ranging from trade and investment rules to human rights and national security.

Beijing's ambassador to the EU said last week that Monday's talks were a chance to make relations "more productive and substantive by seizing opportunities and addressing challenges".

But he rapped Brussels over plans for tougher rules for heavily subsidised foreign companies, which would particularly target Chinese firms, saying the EU was not practising the openness it preached to others.

The EU has taken a more balanced approach, characterising China as a "systemic rival" and competitor but also as a partner on some issues. The bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has urged a hard-headed approach.

At talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week, Borrell proposed a dialogue with Washington aimed at forging a common trans-Atlantic front against Beijing – though he has also stressed the EU must pursue its own interests and not simply toe the American line. — AFP

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