Tear down your barriers, says EU after China’s summit with Xi

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders on Monday asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to open up markets, respect minorities and retreat from a crack in Hong Kong, also claiming that Europe is now in trade Benefit will not be taken.

FILE PHOTO: An attendant with the flag of the European Union and China walks ahead of the EU-China high-level economic dialogue at the Diyutai State Guesthouse on June 25, 2018 in Beijing, China. REUTERS / Jason Lee

Eager to show that the European Union would not take sides in a global deadlock between China and the United States, German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined the chief executive and chairman of the block to deliver a tough-talking message to Beijing.

European Council President Charles Mitchell, who chaired the video summit, “Europe is a player, not a playground,” told reporters in the context of growing sentiment in Europe that China had agreed to engage in fair and free trade Has not completed

With more than one billion euros a day in bilateral trade, the European Union is China’s top trading partner, while China ranks second after the United States as the market for goods and services in the European Union.

China’s Xi was not part of the post-summit conference and there was no joint statement, but the state-owned Xinhua news agency reported that Xi rejected any interference in Chinese affairs, most notably on human rights.

“Chinese people will not accept ‘an instructor’ on human rights and will oppose ‘double standards’,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying. China strengthens exchanges with the European side based on the principle of mutual respect Ready to do so that both sides can progress. “

The European Union accuses China of breaking a host of global trade rules, ranging from steel over-production to theft of Western intellectual property, which it denies.

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The European approach has also turned to Beijing because of the coronovirus novel that many scientists believe originated in China, and a new security law on Hong Kong that the West says curbs basic rights .

EU pressure

“We are really serious about accessing the Chinese market and removing barriers,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the news conference.

Merkel said that she and her two EU allies had pressured Xi to be clear about whether he really wanted an investment agreement that was being negotiated between the two and that would allow China to open up its markets Will force

“We pressured … to make progress on the investment agreement,” Merkel told reporters from Berlin.

“Overall, cooperation with China should be based on certain principles – reciprocity, fair competition. We are different social systems, but when we are committed to multilateralism, it should be rule-based.

Merkel said that in view of China’s economic transformation in the last 15 years, the demand for a level playing field was justified.

The European Union also wants a strong commitment on climate change from China, the world’s top polluter.

The European Union and China signed an agreement to protect each other’s exported food and beverages from Feta cheese with Pixian bean paste.

While a minor, the new deal is a trade coup for Europe as manufacturers in the US, Australian or New Zealand will no longer be able to use protected names on their exports to China, although there is a transition period for some.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsopp and Robin Ammot; Additional reporting by Paul Karel, Michelle Adair and Thomas Escreet in Berlin, editing by Louise Havens / Amelia Sithole-Mataris, Grant McCool and Jonathan Otis