As top EU officials prepare to meet China’s Vice Premier Liu He via videoconference Tuesday, European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said the coronavirus crisis has given the bloc “no other option but to work hand in hand” with Beijing.
Dombrovskis and the EU’s trade chief Phil Hogan will discuss the coronavirus crisis, global economic governance issues, and cooperation in finance and taxation with a Chinese delegation at Tuesday’s “high-level trade and economic dialogue,” which comes a month after a virtual EU-China summit. According to a Commission statement, “topics such as market access and level playing field for EU companies” will also be on the agenda.
Speaking to POLITICO’s Brussels Playbook ahead of the meeting, Dombrovskis said of the EU’s ties with Beijing: “It’s an important relationship but not an easy one.”
According to three EU diplomats, Brussels will establish a link between a planned 2025 agenda for cooperation with China, a priority for Beijing, to a parallel negotiation process on an investment agreement, which is the EU’s primary consideration.
“We have certain demands on our side, such as the need for our companies to get the same treatment in China as Chinese companies [get] here,” Dombrovskis told POLITICO. “By pulling together, we can recover more quickly economically, and make progress on areas of mutual interest such as trade and investment relations.”
The meeting comes as China faces increasing international criticism for its crackdown on Hong Kong and accusations of forced labor and other human rights abuses at camps for the Muslim Uighur minority. Last week, a cross-party group of MEPs urged the Commission to take action against Beijing in an open letter sent to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
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