EconomyEditor's PickNewsEU Leaders Will Call for Rebalancing Relationship With China

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(C) Bloomberg. A Chinese national flag flies in Beijing, China, on Monday, March 2, 2015. China’s annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, which begins March 5 in Beijing, is expected to set government policies for the year on issues ranging from economic growth to military spending and pollution. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi

(Bloomberg) — European Union leaders will on Thursday call for an economic rebalancing with China and greater reciprocity between the two sides, part of a rethink by Brussels over how to engage with the world’s second-largest economy.

EU leaders will also reiterate at a summit in Brussels the goal of finalizing by the end of this year negotiations for an “ambitious” EU-China Comprehensive Investment Agreement that would address “current asymmetries in market access, ensures a level playing field, and establishes meaningful commitments on sustainable development,” according to a draft of a joint communique seen by Bloomberg that is subject to changes.

The EU has become increasingly impatient with China, seeking concrete actions from Beijing that would allow European companies to compete in large sectors of China’s economy, which are still effectively closed off to them. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday reiterated China’s commitment to conclude the investment agreement before year end.

The EU will also urge China “to make progress on overcapacity and engage in negotiations on industrial subsidies at the World Trade Organisation,” according to the draft.

The declaration comes amid growing criticism by European leaders of Chinese actions to clamp down on freedoms in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong, where Beijing imposed a new national security law in June, angering the U.S. The EU will underline “its serious concerns about the human rights situation in China, including developments in Hong Kong,” the draft said, an assertion almost certain to irk Beijing.

China has repeatedly called such matters its own internal affairs and warned against foreign interference.

The EU is also expected to call on China to assume greater responsibility in dealing with global challenges, including taking more ambitious climate action, and will welcome President Xi Jinping’s recent commitment to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060 as a “step in the right direction.”

(C)2020 Bloomberg L.P.

EU Leaders Will Call for Rebalancing Relationship With China

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