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

By Philip Blenkinsop and Robin Emmott BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders told Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday to open up markets, respect minorities and step back from a crackdown in Hong Kong, also asserting that Europe would no longer be taken advantage of in trade. Anxious to show that the EU will not take sides in a global standoff between China and the United States, German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined the bloc's chief executive and chairman to deliver a tough-talking message to Beijing. 'Europe is a player, not a playing field,' European Council President Charles Michel, who chaired the video summit, told reporters in reference to a growing sense in Europe that China has not met its promises to engage in fair and free trade.

Reuters September 15, 2020 02:10:45 IST
Tear down your barriers, EU says after summit with China's Xi

Tear down your barriers EU says after summit with Chinas Xi

By Philip Blenkinsop and Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders told Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday to open up markets, respect minorities and step back from a crackdown in Hong Kong, also asserting that Europe would no longer be taken advantage of in trade.

Anxious to show that the EU will not take sides in a global standoff between China and the United States, German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined the bloc's chief executive and chairman to deliver a tough-talking message to Beijing.

"Europe is a player, not a playing field," European Council President Charles Michel, who chaired the video summit, told reporters in reference to a growing sense in Europe that China has not met its promises to engage in fair and free trade.

With more than a billion euros a day in bilateral trade, the EU is China's top trading partner, while China is second only to the United States as a market for EU goods and services.

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

"Chinese people will not accept 'an instructor' on human rights and oppose 'double standards', Xinhua reported Xi as saying during the video summit. "China is willing to strengthen exchanges with the European side based on the principle of mutual respect so that the two sides can both make progress."

The European Union accuses China of breaking a host of global trade rules, from overproduction of steel to stealing Western intellectual property, which Beijing denies.

European attitudes have also hardened towards Beijing because of the novel coronavirus, which many scientists believe originated in China, and because of a new security law on Hong Kong that the West says curtails basic rights.

EU PRESSURE

"We are really serious about having access to the Chinese market and tearing down the barriers," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the news conference.

Merkel said she and her two EU colleagues had pressed Xi to be clear about whether it really wanted an investment agreement that is being negotiated between the two and which would force China to open up its markets.

"We put on pressure ... to make progress on the investment agreement," Merkel told reporters from Berlin.

"Overall, cooperation with China must be based on certain principles - reciprocity, fair competition. We are different social systems, but while we are committed to multilateralism, it must be rules-based," she added.

The demand for a level playing field was justified today given China's economic transformation in the past 15 years, Merkel said.

The EU also wants stronger commitments on climate change from China, the world's top polluter.

The EU and China did sign a deal to protect each other's exported food and drinks items from feta cheese to Pixian bean paste.

While modest, the new deal is a trade coup for Europe as U.S., Australian or New Zealand producers will no longer be able to use the protected names on their exports to China, although there is a transition period for certain cheeses.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Robin Emmott; Additional reporting by Paul Carrel, Michelle Adair and Thomas Escritt in Berlin, editing by Louise Heavens/Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Grant McCool and Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.