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Trade, coronavirus and environment on agenda in EU-China talks

Trade, coronavirus and environment on agenda in EU-China talks

12:00 - Top Chinese and EU leaders have met over video link as part of a summit to plan out the future relationship between the two powers.

China's president Xi Jinping and premier Li Keqiang talked with the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, and Charles Michel, president of the European Council.

Ahead of the summit, Von der Leyen, tweeted: "Today's EU-China summit is a much-needed opportunity to move forward on all aspects of our cooperation.

"We'll discuss wide-ranging topics, from trade to climate action, from sustainable development to human rights, from digitalization and foreign policy to coronavirus response."

Investment deal

The EU and China are huge trading partners, accounting between them for more than a third of world Gross Domestic Product.

Both are keen to open up new opportunities for businesses. However, there have recently been tensions over Europe's concerns that China's industrial giants are unfairly subsidized. For its part, China is unhappy at EU tariffs imposed on its companies in response to those fears. It says it adheres to World Trade Organization rules.

China says it will continue to open up its economy to foreign businesses, a key EU demand, and sees common cause with Brussels in championing markets and multi-national rules in the face of US protectionism.

We will take necessary measures to resolutely counter the wrong acts of external forces interfering in the Hong Kong affair
- Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, has warned other countries not to interfere with the situation in Hong Kong

Hong Kong

EU leaders have criticized a national security law proposed for Hong Kong on the grounds that it "erodes trust," but stopped short of following the US and threatening sanctions. However, China maintains that its internal affairs are of no concern to other nations and in any case that the new rules will increase the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong while protecting individual rights.

Von der Leyen was under pressure to raise the issue directly.

Global supply chains

The pandemic has shown how dependent the EU is on China – the reliability of those supply chains will be discussed. China has offered significant support to European nations during the crisis but voices within the bloc have warned that a more sovereign approach to supply chains is needed.

Disinformation

Earlier this month, China denied accusations from Brussels that it had engaged "in targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns around COVID-19 in the EU, its neighborhood and globally."

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