Chinese leader Xi Jinping and EU leaders discuss trade, technology, and cooperation

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7th December 2023 – (Beijing) During a summit in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping engaged in discussions with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel. The meeting, held amid strained relations, aimed to address key trade partnerships and cooperation opportunities between China and Europe.

Europe has been reevaluating its relationship with China to minimize risks, particularly in light of concerns about unfair trade practices. These include investigations into potential state subsidies for electric vehicle manufacturers. Additionally, areas of tension encompass a range of geopolitical issues such as Taiwan, the conflict in Ukraine, and concerns about Chinese companies aiding Russia in bypassing sanctions. The growing trade deficit, which reached €390 billion (US$420.5 billion) in China’s favour last year, has also been a point of contention.

Despite low expectations for substantial progress on these matters, both sides conveyed positive indications during the morning meeting. President Xi emphasized China’s commitment to high-quality development, high-level opening-up, and its view of the EU as a key trade partner, a prioritized partner in technology cooperation, and a trustworthy partner in industrial and supply chain collaboration.

Xi underscored the complementary nature of the Chinese and European economies, advocating for deeper and broader cooperation to strengthen the China-EU community of shared interests. This partnership would involve closer bonds, mutual understanding, and efforts to enhance traditional and emerging industries, exploring new models of cooperation, and improving industrial and supply chains.

The European leaders expressed their desire to establish a consistently stable, predictable, and sustainable relationship with China, emphasizing the need to address imbalances and differences. They also highlighted the importance of dialogue and cooperation in trade, green and digital economies, and the maintenance of supply chains. Additionally, the bloc seeks collaboration on global issues such as climate change and artificial intelligence, while aiming to enhance balanced trade relations and increase people-to-people exchanges.

The summit was an opportunity for both sides to discuss areas of common interest, including climate change and health. President of the European Council Charles Michel emphasized the bloc’s pursuit of a “stable and mutually beneficial” relationship with China, based on transparency, predictability, and reciprocity. President Xi stressed the imperative of jointly addressing global challenges and promoting world stability and prosperity.