EU chief urges China to address differences responsibly

Beijing, Dec 7 (EFE).- The European Union and China should manage their differences “responsibly” when conflicting interests arise, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday.

“China is the EU’s most important trading partner,” von der Leyen said after meeting Xi in the Chinese capital for the 24th EU-China summit, their first in-person in over four years.

“But there are clear imbalances and differences that we must address. We both recognize the importance of de-risking and strengthening the resilience of our economies,” said the president in opening remarks, flanked by European Council President Charles Michel and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

“At times, our interests coincide. When they do not, we need to address and responsibly manage the concerns that we have.”

The EU president noted that the EU attached “great importance” to its relationship with China. “We have massive trade between us…and important investment stakes in each other’s economies.”

She stressed the importance of finding solutions to global challenges, calling for an end to Russian aggression against Ukraine and “establish a just and lasting peace consistent with the UN Charter.”

“In the same vein,” she said, the two sides must “do everything possible to work for a two-state solution in the Middle East” to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“As major powers in the world, the European Union and China have global responsibilities. We have a shared interest in peace and security, in the effective functioning of the rules-based international order, and in finding solutions to global challenges.”

During the summit, the two sides will discuss the issues that have strained relations between Beijing and Brussels in recent years, like trade disputes, human rights, and the war in Ukraine.

In his opening remarks, Xi told the EU leaders that China and the European bloc must “join hands to tackle global challenges and promote stability and prosperity around the world.”

“At this new starting point of China-EU relations, we need to take stock of history, navigate the trends of the world, and act with wisdom and a sense of responsibility,” Xi said.

Xi said the two sides were “partners of mutually beneficial cooperation” and should “strengthen political trust, strategic consensus, ties of interest, dialogue, and collaboration.”

Since the beginning of the year when China opened its borders, several EU leaders, including EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, have visited the country.

Since 2019, voices in Brussels advocating for risk reduction in the EU-China relationship have grown louder.

Von der Leyen recently highlighted concerns such as trade coercion, the boycott of European products, and export controls on essential raw materials for goods like semiconductors and solar panels.

Relations between China and the EU have soured in recent years due to disputes over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which Beijing has refrained from condemning, and the investigation initiated by Brussels into China’s subsidies for electric cars.

On Wednesday, the Chinese foreign ministry emphasized that China and Europe were partners and their common interests outweighed their differences. EFE


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