Beijing hosts a meeting of Chinese and European leaders
Leaders from China and the European Union underscored the imperative of not perceiving each other as adversaries during their first in-person summit in over four years. They acknowledged the necessity of addressing their differences to foster a constructive relationship. Chinese President Xi Jinping cautioned EU officials against engaging in confrontation, emphasizing the importance of recognizing the disparities in their political systems. Xi urged the EU to eliminate any interference in their bilateral relationship, as reported by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged China as the EU’s largest trading partner during the meeting in Beijing. However, she pointed out clear imbalances and differences that must be addressed. In her opening remarks, von der Leyen highlighted instances where EU-China interests coincide, such as cooperation on artificial intelligence and climate change. She emphasized the need to responsibly manage concerns when interests do not align. European Council President Charles Michel stressed the EU’s pursuit of a stable and mutually beneficial relationship, emphasizing principles of transparency, predictability, and reciprocity.
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While the two sides are expected to find common ground on global challenges like climate change and biodiversity, addressing differences on trade and power politics may prove challenging. China’s state television reported that Li, a Chinese official, conveyed China’s opposition to the politicization and securitization of economic and trade issues, urging the EU to exercise prudence in introducing restrictive policies.
The summit held particular significance for EU officials as it was their last opportunity for face-to-face meetings with top Chinese officials before the upcoming European Parliament election, which will bring changes in the leadership of the 27-nation bloc. Discussions also encompassed pressing international issues such as the conflict between Israel and Hamas and tensions over self-ruled Taiwan. President Xi emphasized the shared responsibility of China and the EU in addressing global challenges and working together to promote world stability and prosperity.