EU leaders will talk to Chinese President Xi Jinping seeking trade and investment Monday, despite tensions over Hong Kong’s freedoms and Beijing’s treatment of its Uighur minority.
Chinese officials, EU chiefs Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold a video-conference to replace a full summit with all 27 EU leaders cancelled because of coronavirus.China says an investment deal — already seven years in the making — can be agreed this year, but EU officials warn obstacles remain and insist they will not swallow unfavourable terms simply to cut a deal.
“Even if there is a political objective to accelerate negotiations and conclude them by the end of the year, we will have this only if it is something worth having,” an EU official said.
Brussels says “significant progress” has been made in talks since a similar video summit in June, and officials hope to agree a roadmap to a deal by the end of the year — they also want Beijing to improve market access for European companies.
“The EU must define its own interests, and must be strong and independent of both China and the United States,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told the German weekly Welt am Sonntag.Brussels wants to reinforce respect for intellectual property, to end obligations to transfer technology and to reduce subsidies for Chinese public enterprises.