Business & Economy

EU-China summit aims to ease trade relations

Brussels, Apr 1 (EFE).- A summit between the European Union and China Friday will focus on easing economic relations amid mounting pressure from the West for Beijing to cool its alliance with Russia.

The first session of the 23rd EU-China summit started at 8:00 GMT with a working session between the presidents of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

A second session is scheduled for 12:00 GMT with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine will be high on the agenda with the EU pushing for guarantees from Beijing that it has no intention of offering an economic lifeline or any other kind of support to Russia, according to European sources.

In a meeting in Beijing during the opening of the February Winter Olympics, Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin put on a show of unity in which they both pledged to continue strengthening ties between Moscow and Beijing and criticized NATO’s policy of expansion.

So far, the Chinese government has been ambiguous in condemning the invasion of Ukraine.

The aforementioned sources told Efe that the EU did not have firm evidence or proof of China’s military support of Russia.

The EU considers it is in China’s interest to stop the war to avoid jeopardizing global economic stability, especially given that in 2021 13.7% of Chinese exports were with the EU, ahead of trade with the United States which amounted to 12.5% of exports, and Russia with only 2.4%.

Economic relations between the EU and China soured last year when the block issued sanctions on Beijing over reported violations of human rights in the Xinjiang province, making it the first blockade since the Tiananmen massacre in 1989.

In December 2020, EU lawmakers ratified an investment agreement that would have paved the way for European companies to compete on equal terms in the Chinese market but the deal has since stalled.

To further stagnate any progress in trade relations, in February the EU challenged China at the World Trade Organization in February over Beijing’s veto on exports of Lithuanian products, after Vilnius allowed the opening of a trade office in Taiwan, over which Beijing makes territorial claims.EFE


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