Beijing. China’s president, Xi Jinping, warned senior European Union (EU) officials on Thursday that China and Europe should not be seen as competitors, nor “enter into confrontation” because of their different systems. in politics, in the first China-China. summit. EU in person for four years.
During the meeting, which covered issues from trade imbalances to Ukraine, Xi also said that China is ready to make the European Union a key socio-economic and trade partner and cooperate in science and technology, including artificial intelligence.
In talks held at the Diaoyutai Guest House in Beijing, Xi urged the EU to “eliminate all forms of interference” in bilateral relations, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
Xi said the two sides should develop “a correct view” of each other and develop mutual understanding and trust.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also met with Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang during their one-day visit.
Li told EU leaders that China opposes “extensive politicization and securitization” of economic and trade issues, which violates the basic norms of market economies, according to Chinese state television.
“We hope that the EU will be careful to introduce strict economic and trade policies and use corrective trade measures to keep trade and investment markets open,” he said.
Thursday’s meetings are the last chance for EU officials to meet with senior Chinese officials before next year’s European Parliament elections, which will bring changes at the top of the 27-nation bloc. .
Italy has officially informed China “in recent days” that it is abandoning the Belt and Road Initiative promoted by Xi, Italian government sources told Reuters on Wednesday, facing another blow. on EU-China relations.
Several EU commissioners have visited Beijing since China lifted border restrictions this year, including the bloc’s trade and climate officials. However, little progress has been made in solving the main problems of the relationship.
Recently, Borrell’s chief of staff and senior EU diplomat, Enrique Mora, visited the country last November.
The EU wants Beijing to use its influence with Russia to stop the war in Ukraine and one of the main purposes of the trip is to urge Xi to stop private Chinese companies from exporting goods. which is double use of Europe by Russia for its military campaign.
Brussels initially excluded these Chinese companies from the latest package of sanctions against Russia, presented last month, according to European sources.
The bloc is also concerned about the perceived “unbalanced” economic relationship and said the trade deficit with China, close to 400 billion euros ($431.7 billion), reflects restrictions imposed on EU companies that They operate there.
China has already shown its opposition to the EU’s anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese electric vehicles and the EU’s policy to reduce its reliance on Chinese imports, especially in key raw materials.
“The Chinese side believes that the investigation (…) has seriously disrupted and distorted the global automotive industry chain (…) and has a negative impact on economic and trade relations between China and the EU,” said this Thursday He Yadong, spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, in a press conference.
Last month, Foreign Minister Wang told his visiting French counterpart, Catherine Colonna, that the biggest danger was “uncertainty caused by broad politics,” and that “the trust that most needs to be reduced is protectionism.”
During Colonna’s visit, China also offered visa-free entry to citizens of the EU’s five largest economies, in a bid to boost post-pandemic tourism and improve China’s image in the West, after the deterioration of relationships during the covid-19 pandemic.
EU sources said the two sides could work more closely together to fight climate change and promote biodiversity.