Brussels, Jun 22 (efe-epa).- European Union leaders on Monday said that while cooperation with China was crucial there must be boost reciprocity and multilateralism in order for the relationship to develop further.
The presidents of the EU Council Charles Michel and the Commission Ursula von der Leyen gave an update following the bloc’s 22nd bilateral summit with China. Accompanied by the head of EU foreign policy Josep Borrell, the leaders had exchanges with president Xi Jinping and prime minister Li Keqiang.
“EU-China relations have evolved in recent years. Our economic interdependency is high, and we must work together on global challenges like climate action, meeting the Sustainable Development Goals or dealing with COVID-19,” Michel said in a statement.
“But, at the same time, we have to recognise that we do not share the same values, political systems, or approach to multilateralism. We will engage in a clear-eyed and confident way, robustly defending EU interests and standing firm on our values.”
Von der Leyen said the Covid-19 pandemic had demonstrated the importance of the EU’s ties with China in the fields of trade, climate and tech.
“But for our relations to develop further, they must become more rules-based and reciprocal, in order to achieve a real level playing-field.”
The EU urged China to add momentum to the ongoing negotiations for the EU-China Comprehensive Investment Agreement and address outstanding concerns therein, especially on the actions of its state-owned enterprises.
“On economic and trade issues, the EU recalled the joint commitment to work constructively and expeditiously towards the resolution of a number of market access and regulatory issues,” a statement from the EU said.
The European leaders also raised concerns about the new national security law Beijing intends to enforce on Hong Kong, warning that it did not consider such a measure to be in line with Hong’s Kong’s Basic Law, a de facto constitution for the special-status city.
The EU said Beijing also risked breaching its international commitments and heaping pressure on fundamental rights and freedoms in Hong Kong.
Michel said 50 percent of Europe’s trade with China passed through Hong Kong.
The statement added: “The EU raised its concerns on the deteriorating human rights situation, including the treatment of minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, and of human rights defenders, as well as restrictions on fundamental freedoms.”
The bloc’s leaders also highlighted China’s role in tackling climate change, saying that while it was a valued member of the Paris Agreement, it had to take “decisive” action on a national level.
The most-populated country on the planet, China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.