September 25, 2020

The EU and China get stuck with the investment deal: "Beijing has to convince us that it is worth it"


The day began with the announcement of an agreement between the EU and China to protect against counterfeiting and usurpation one hundred European GIs in China and one hundred Chinese GIs in the European Union. But the important thing, which was the meeting by videoconference in the afternoon, between the President of the European Council, Charles Michel; the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen; the current president of the EU, Angela Merkel; and Chinese President Xi Jinping has ended without progress on the main issues on the agenda, including the investment protection pact that was wanted to be signed this year, to the point that not even a joint communiqué of the meeting; and the Chinese dignitary has not even participated in the subsequent press conference.

The differences between the EU and China are wide-ranging: from human rights to 5G technology, through opacity in managing the pandemic or the role of companies like Huawei in collecting data. But at the same time, he is an actor impossible to ignore and with whom Europe wants to maintain the best possible relations.

“Europe needs to be an actor,” said Michel, “not a mere playing field. Today’s meeting represents another step forward in building a more balanced relationship with China. China is a key global partner in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse effect and tackling climate change. And we encourage it to be even more ambitious. “

Michel has insisted on the human rights issue: “Democratic voices in Hong Kong must be heard, rights protected and autonomy preserved. We urge China to fulfill its promises to the Hong Kong people and the international community. We reiterate our concern. for China’s treatment of minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet and the treatment of human rights defenders and journalists We request the access of independent observers to Xinjiang and call for the release of Swedish citizen Gui Minhai and two arbitrarily detained Canadian citizens We agreed to discuss these issues in detail at the Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing later this year which will also, we hope, include a field visit to Tibet. “

Thus, the EU calls for more equal opportunities with China, and “more ambition” in the fight against climate change, and more “convergence” on digital issues and “clear rules” on cybersecurity.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the press conference: “It has become clear that China assumes the Paris agreement. That is important. It is now about preparing for the Glasgow conference. The central issue is the definition and revision of national emission reduction targets “.

The chancellor has reiterated that it is important to have strategic relations with China, but has warned of the differences that exist in many aspects. “Political action is always at the moment it is carried out … It is important to seek good relations with China. The political will must be there to reach an agreement. But this political will is on two sides.”

“China needs to convince us that an investment deal is worth having,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

With regard to an agreement on investments, Merkel declared that the need to reach an agreement had been insisted on because, although it is about different social systems, it is necessary to have clear rules in economic relations.

A meeting of EU-China leaders is scheduled to take place in 2021 with the participation of the Heads of State and Government of the EU member states and President Xi.

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