EU urges progress in China investment deal despite differences

Brussels, Jun 9 (efe-epa).- The European Union on Tuesday urged China to make ground in the negotiations towards a deal on investment and market access while also highlighting disagreements with Beijing’s bid to apply a security law on its special-status territory of Hong Kong.

The EU’s head of foreign affairs Josep Borrell held a three hour video meeting with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi.

Borrell said the meeting was “open and frank,” and touched on a broad spectrum of issues in preparation for an upcoming EU-China summit due to be held at the end of the month via videoconference due to the coronavirus pandemic. Another is scheduled to be held in person in September.

The bloc’s foreign affairs chief said it was important to make progress in areas where concrete disagreements remain as the entities study the economic partnership strategy through to 2025.

He said the EU and China needed to reaffirm the aims set out in a summit in 2019, such as establishing an even playing field in market competition.

“We seek to have a balanced and reciprocal approach in our cooperation,” he said.

The EU and China were more in harmony with multilateral affairs, such as the international response to the coronavirus pandemic, especially in Africa, or when working together to tackle climate change or de-escalate conflicts in places like Afghanistan, Libya, the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula.

Borrell also thanked China for their continued commitment to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, from which the United States withdrew in 2018, a move that was criticized by the EU.

The Spanish politician highlighted areas where the EU and China disagree, such as the topic of human rights and the Chinese government’s plans with the semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong.

The EU foreign affairs chief said he had expressed his concern over Beijing’s plan to apply a new security law on the territory, which critics say would strip back the city’s autonomy by illegalizing “subversion” against mainland authorities.

“We have been very clear that the imposition by Beijing undermines its autonomy,” he said, adding that China had insisted the move would not compromise the so-called ‘one country, two systems’ framework currently in place.

He said he urged China to uphold the agreements made with the United Kingdom when Hong Kong was handed back to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. EFE/EPA


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