Beijing, March 2 (EFE).- Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao said the development of his country is “a good opportunity” for the European Union and not “a challenge or a threat,” and asked both parties to strengthen communication and promote “healthy competition,” state media reported Wednesday.
The remarks come less than a month before China and the EU meet at an Apr. 1 summit with which they seek to relax growing tensions of recent months and against the background of the conflict in Ukraine.
Wang, quoted by the official Global Times newspaper, told a press conference that although there are differences in the bilateral relationship, cooperation between China and the EU is “greater than competition.” He said he hoped it would be expanded in several areas, including the ratification and entry into force of the Investment Agreement signed in December 2020 and paralyzed in the European Parliament.
Yan Shiqiang, an economic researcher, told the newspaper that he considered the summit “is an important opportunity to break the ice” concerning the Investment Agreement and that it will serve to calm things down between the parties.
He said the meeting could serve to “rectify” the agreement, although “given the complex situation the world is going through at this time, the process could be affected by obstacles and uncertainties.”
China is the main trading partner of the EU, which in turn is the second for the country, with a bilateral exchange that reached a record figure of $ 800,000 million in 2021.
The April summit will also take place in the midst of a new dispute over the Chinese blockade of imports from Lithuania that has led to an EU complaint to the World Trade Organization.
Brussels said it considers Beijing is applying coercive measures that also affect other countries in the bloc that export Lithuanian content to China.
The dispute began as a result of Lithuania’s decision to allow the opening in the country of a representative office of Taiwan, a territory over which China claims sovereignty.
Beijing, which rejects the use of the name Taiwan in these offices and demands that Chinese Taipei be used, responded in November by downgrading its diplomatic relationship with the Baltic country to the rank of charge d’affaires, while Lithuania withdrew its diplomats from China a month later.
In recent weeks, Chinese Customs have suspended import applications and permits for products from the country, including beef and wood. EFE