China’s Wang Yi urges EU to ‘clarify’ its position on partnership


BEIJING (Reuters) -The European Union must further “clarify” its position on its strategic partnership with Beijing, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi told European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, as EU leaders called for reduced dependence on China.

The launch of an EU-China comprehensive strategic partnership in 2003 had promised to elevate ties beyond trade and investment. But since 2019, the 27-nation bloc has called China an “economic competitor” and a “systemic rival”, with Beijing’s close relations with Moscow after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine increasing the caution.

China and the EU should strengthen communication, enhance mutual trust and deepen cooperation, and the bloc should not “waver”, let alone encourage back-pedalling in words and deeds, Wang told Borrell on Friday on the sidelines of regional meetings in Jakarta, according to a readout from the Chinese foreign ministry on Saturday.

Last month, EU leaders committed to lessening the area’s dependence on China and debated how to strike a balance between “de-risking” and cooperating in areas such as climate change. In March, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said a hardening of China’s position required Europe to “de-risk” both economically and diplomatically.

The Commission is also urging EU members to agree to stronger controls on exports and outflows of technologies for military use by “countries of concern”.

During his meeting with Borrell, Wang called on both sides to guard against the politicisation of economic issues and the use of “de-risking” as another term for “decoupling”.

There is no fundamental conflict of interest between China and the EU, Wang said.

Borrell, in a post on Twitter, described his talks with Wang on managing EU-China relations as “constructive” and “in-depth”.

On Ukraine, Wang said China supports a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture, and will continue to promote talks for peace and play a constructive role in seeking a political settlement of the crisis.

Borrell tweeted that he had “expressed EU expectations as to China’s role to help ending Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and to provide humanitarian assistance”.

He said he and Wang “also discussed on preserving stability and the status quo in the Taiwan Strait”.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo; Editing by Michael Perry and William Mallard)

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