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China has dismissed rising concern in Brussels over the nation’s document €400bn commerce surplus with the EU in 2022, saying the hole will probably be considerably narrower this yr.
The feedback got here as European Council president Charles Michel and European Fee president Ursula von der Leyen met President Xi Jinping and his quantity two Li Qiang in Beijing on Thursday for the primary in-person EU-China summit for the reason that pandemic.
In what Beijing known as “candid” talks, the 2 sides mentioned points together with commerce variations, local weather change co-operation, and the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, however didn’t obtain any main breakthroughs.
Von der Leyen instructed reporters after the summit the basis causes of China’s commerce surplus with the EU had been “well-known” — a scarcity of market entry for European corporations and Beijing’s preferential remedy of home corporations in addition to overcapacity in Chinese production.
“If you happen to have a look at the final two years, the commerce deficit has doubled,” she mentioned, including that this was unsustainable.
However China’s overseas ministry director-general for European affairs Wang Lutong mentioned in a separate briefing after the summit that the Asian nation’s surplus with the EU was already falling. China’s customs administration has reported a deficit of Rmb1.4tn (€183bn) for the primary 11 months of this yr, down 17 per cent in contrast with a yr earlier.
“Each side mentioned about what Brussels has been calling imbalance about bilateral commerce — we don’t suppose China could possibly be held accountable for this,” Wang instructed reporters after the talks.
He mentioned China didn’t imagine there was overcapacity in its electrical autos sector, which is dealing with an anti-subsidy investigation in the EU, particularly given the big want for such merchandise.
“I feel plenty of industries in China developed . . . due to innovation,” Wang mentioned, including that the EU itself was spending billions on subsidies for battery industries.
The EU wanted to resolve if it wished to profit from China’s industrial prowess in renewable industries as Europe made the transition to a inexperienced economic system, he added.
“In order for you us to help the EU within the inexperienced transition, don’t be protectionist — you make the selection,” he mentioned.
Thursday’s summit adopted rising tensions not solely over commerce, but additionally over China’s refusal to sentence Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Whereas Beijing has known as for a ceasefire, Brussels needs it to stress Moscow to withdraw its troops utterly from Ukraine.
“Generally European politicians say to us that China wants to talk to Russia, we have to converse to President Putin about [withdrawing] their troopers,” Wang mentioned. “However this can be a very unbiased sovereign nation. President Putin is making his resolution based mostly on his personal nationwide curiosity and safety.”
He mentioned Europe itself ought to maintain talks with Russia about negotiating with Ukraine, whereas Washington and Moscow ought to talk about a strategic safety framework.
China was additionally upset about new sanctions being launched within the west in opposition to its corporations over supplying items to Russia, Wang mentioned. Europeans mustn’t ask China to assist them on “the one hand and on the opposite hurt our nationwide curiosity”, he added.
If China’s corporations had been topic to unilateral sanctions, “undoubtedly we’ll reply accordingly”, Wang mentioned.
Regardless of the dearth of tangible outcomes, some analysts mentioned the sleek holding of the summit marked progress for China-EU relations given current tensions.
“Strengthening dialogue and co-operation is conducive to enhancing political belief,” mentioned Liu Lirong, affiliate professor on the Centre for European Research at Fudan College in Shanghai.
Further reporting by Henry Foy and Andy Bounds in Brussels