Fri. May 20th, 2022
Europan and Chinese flags
China and Europe meet online for their next summit. Source: EU Commission

Brussels, 1 April 2022

The European Union and China held their 23rd bilateral Summit via videoconference on 1 April 2022. President of the European Council, CharlesMichel, and President of the European Commission, Ursulavon der Leyen, held the Summit meeting with China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang, followed by exchanges with China’s President Xi Jinping.

President of the European Council, CharlesMichel, said:

As major global powers, the EU and China must work together on stopping Russia’s war in Ukraine as soon as possible. We have a common responsibility to maintain peace and stability, and a safe and sustainable world. Key international norms and principles must be respected. We count on China’s support to achieve a lasting ceasefire, to stop the unjustifiable war and address the dramatic humanitarian crisis it has generated.”

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said:

“We underlined that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not only a defining moment for our continent, but also for our relationship with the rest of the world. There must be respect for international law, as well as for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has a special responsibility. No European citizen would understand any support to Russia’s ability to wage war. We also discussed how to cooperate on several issues like global food security, climate change and the fight against COVID.”

Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine

The EU and China discussed extensively Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, which is endangering global security and the world’s economy, as well as food and energy security. The EU highlighted that its key priority is to stop Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign country and a key EU partner. The EU also emphasised the importance for Russia to allow humanitarian access and safeguard humanitarian corridors, and to refrain from targeting civilian population and infrastructure.

Recalling the EU’s and China’s responsibility as global actors to work for peace and stability, the EU called on China to support efforts to bring about an immediate end to the bloodshed in Ukraine, consistent with China’s role in the world as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and its uniquely close relations with Russia.

The EU underlined that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine violated key norms and principles of international law as expressed in the UN Charter and the foundational documents of the OSCE, notably respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. By doing so, Russia purposefully undermined Europe’s security architecture, including the Helsinki Final act, the Charter of Paris and the Budapest Memorandum, to which it is party.

The EU recalled that the international sanctions against Russia were imposed with the sole purpose of stopping Russia’s aggression and despite a significant economic impact on the EU and its partners globally. Any circumvention of the effects of the sanctions or any aid provided to Russia would prolong the bloodshed and lead to even greater losses of civilian lives and economic disruption. The EU will work with its partners to bring Russia and those responsible for Russia’s war against Ukraine and for any violations of international and international humanitarian law to account. Any attempts to circumvent sanctions or to aid Russia by other means must be stopped.

Bilateral relations

The EU noted its disappointment with China’s unjustified sanctions, including against Members of the European Parliament, and coercive measures against the EU Single Market and Member States. It called on China to cease such actions for a more productive engagement that would benefit both sides.

The recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic remains a shared priority. Leaders discussed cooperation on the vaccination campaign and reopening of the economy. The EU confirmed its commitment to work with China and other Member States of the World Health Organization on a new agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

The EU pointed to the need to address long-standing concerns related to market access and the investment environment in China, with the view to ensuring a balanced trade and economic relationship. Leaders mandated the High-level Trade and Economic Dialogue to find concrete ways to progress on these issues before the summer. They agreed to expand the EU-China Agreement on the Protection of Geographical Indications in the near future.

Leaders agreed to continue cooperation on climate change and energy transition, which is necessary to tackle this urgent global challenge. The EU stressed the importance of additional measures, including on phasing down coal, in the run up to COP 27 in Sharm-El Sheikh. The EU and China will work together to secure a robust and ambitious new global biodiversity framework at the COP15 in Kunming. The High-Level Dialogue on Environment and Climate will meet before the summer.

The EU raised the importance of a transparent and competitive environment for the digital economy, as well as trustworthy and ethical uses of artificial intelligence. It expressed concerns about increased cybersecurity threats and called for responsible state behaviour in cyberspace. The EU and China will resume the High Level Digital Dialogue.

The EU reiterated its concerns on the human rights situation in China, including the treatment of persons belonging to minorities and human rights defenders, pointing to individual cases, as well as on the dismantling of the “One Country Two Systems” in Hong Kong. The EU expects the resumption of a substantive Human Rights Dialogue to address these concerns.

The EU reaffirmed its commitment to its One China policy, while raising concerns about increased cross-strait tensions. Leaders also touched upon the situations in Afghanistan, Myanmar and on the Korean Peninsula.

Source – EU Commission


Statement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel following the EU-China Summit via videoconference


Indeed, today’s Summit was certainly not business as usual. It took place in a very sober atmosphere. It took place against the backdrop of the Russian war still unravelling in Ukraine. And thus, it was good that we had a very open and a very frank exchange today with President Xi and Prime Minister Li. It was clear that this is not only a defining moment for our continent, but it is also a defining moment for our relationship with the rest of the world.

Looking at the facts on the ground in Ukraine, the suffering of the citizens, the shelling and the bombing of cities, the millions forced to flee, it is clear that this is a humanitarian disaster that was created by choice. We are supporting Ukraine and its people as they face an unjustified aggression. The war is also a violation of common principles and rules and, first and foremost, of the UN Charter. An overwhelming majority of UN members stand united in condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. There must be respect for international law, as well as for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. And therefore, China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has a very special responsibility. This is what we discussed in a very frank and open manner.

We, the European Union, are determined to support the multilateral order. Together with our international partners, we have taken action. We have adopted massive sanctions that are effective. More than 40 countries in total have joined these sanctions. So we also made very clear that China should, if not support, at least not interfere with our sanctions. We discussed that, and also the fact that no European citizen would understand any support to Russia’s ability to wage war. Moreover, it would lead to a major reputational damage for China here in Europe.

The reputational risks are also driving forces in the exodus of international companies from Russia. The business sector is watching very closely the events and evaluating how countries are positioning themselves. This is a question of trust, of reliability and, of course, of decisions on long-term investments. Let me remind you that every day, China and the European Union trade almost EUR 2 billion worth of goods and services. In comparison, trade between China and Russia is only some EUR 330 million per day. So a prolongation of the war, and the disruptions it brings to the world economy, is therefore in no-one’s interest, certainly not in China’s.

Beyond the Russian invasion in Ukraine and its consequences, we, of course, also discussed bilateral issues. We continue to cooperate constructively on climate issues. We want to build on this to prepare for COP27 in Sharm El-Sheik. The current high prices of fossil fuels are also important to watch because they should not bring us to allow a lock-in to fossil fuels, but they should, on the contrary, move us forward towards more strategic investment in renewables and investment in a decarbonised economy.

We can also cooperate in the fight against COVID-19. I have always said that we are in it for the long haul. And to set the record straight – I think that figures always count, also over time – the European Union is the world’s frontrunner when it comes to providing vaccines to the world. To date, the European Union has exported over 2 billion doses of vaccines, of which over 400 million are donated, 85% through COVAX. China, in comparison, has exported 1.2 billion doses, and donated bilaterally 115 million doses and via COVAX 220 million doses. Of course, we acknowledge that Omicron is hitting China hard. 30% of its economy and 25% of its population are in lockdown right now. We have a mutual interest in ensuring widespread vaccination with the effective mRNA vaccine technology to stop the pandemic. We see, by experience, here in Europe, that the best protection against Omicron’s impact is full vaccination and boosters. In Europe, 70% of the population are fully vaccinated and 52% are boosted. And we are always willing to share expertise and support in this matter with China.

But we also made clear to China that a number of important differences need to be addressed. China must stop its unjustified trade measures against Lithuania, which violate WTO rules and disrupt the EU’s Internal Market. Until it does, we will pursue our case in front of the WTO. China must also lift its sanctions against members of the European Parliament. It must address global concerns on human rights and labour rights, in particular as concerns the situation in the Xinjiang region. And we need a level playing field in our trade and investment relations. China needs to improve the access and conditions for our companies on the Chinese market.

To conclude, this Summit was an important opportunity for us to convey Europe’s deep concerns about Russia’s war and aggression against Ukraine, and our determination not to let it stand. And we know that the world has taken a very clear stance on this.

Thank you very much.

Source – EU Commission



Remarks by EU Council President Charles Michel after the EU-China summit via videoconference

Good afternoon. We have just concluded our EU-China summit. Today’s summit is not business as usual, because this is a war-time summit. We are living through the gravest security crisis in Europe since World War Two. Putin’s war in Ukraine continues to kill women and children and destroy entire cities, and this is a blatant violation of international law. The European Union’s top priority is to stop the war as soon as possible and to protect the Ukrainian people.

In times of crisis, dialogue is needed more than ever. That is why we focused on what can be done to end this war as soon as possible. The EU and China agreed that this war is threatening global security and the world economy. This global instability is not in China’s interest and not in the EU’s interest. We share a responsibility as global actors to work for peace and stability. We call on China to help end the war in Ukraine. China cannot turn a blind eye to Russia’s violation of international law.  These principles are enshrined in the UN Charter and principles sacred to China.

The EU, together with its international partners, has imposed heavy sanctions on Russia.  Our goal is to put pressure on the Kremlin to end the war. These sanctions also have a price for us in Europe, but this is the price of defending freedom and democracy. Any attempts to circumvent sanctions or provide aid to Russia would prolong the war. This would lead to more loss of life and a greater economic impact. This is not in anyone’s long-term interests. We will also remain vigilant on any attempts to aid Russia financially or militarily. However, positive steps by China to help end the war would be welcomed by all Europeans and by the global community.

We also discussed areas of shared interest where we cooperate, such as global health. We want to engage with China and all members of the WHO on a new agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. We are also cooperating with China to protect our planet.  We can and we must do more. We must be ready for COP27 in Egypt later this year.  We also called on China to further increase its ambition on environment, biodiversity and climate action.

We also discussed areas where we disagree. We raised our concerns about China’s treatment of minorities in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, and of the people of Tibet.  This includes the crackdown on human rights defenders. We also expressed our regret at the dismantling of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle in Hong Kong.  We also insisted a lot on the relaunch of the Human Rights Dialogue, and Prime Minister Li Keqiang confirmed that this relaunch would take place. We also raised individual human rights cases.

We also discussed our trade and economic relationship with China, to make it fairer, to ensure reciprocity, to achieve a level playing field, to rebalance our bilateral trade and investment relations. We also raised the issue of China’s discriminatory trade practices against Lithuania and the effects on the integrity of the single market.

We also touched on a number of international issues: Taiwan, of course, and the importance of preserving stability and the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, the challenges in Afghanistan, as well as the situation in Myanmar and the Korean Peninsula.

En conclusion, nous avons eu l’occasion de mener ces discussions avec les autorités chinoises dans ce contexte exceptionnel: cette situation extrêmement grave, avec cette guerre déclenchée par la Russie en Ukraine. Cette guerre est une tragédie pour l’Ukraine. Cette guerre est aussi une agression contre l’ordre international fondé sur des règles et contre le droit international en général.

Nous avons eu l’occasion d’argumenter, de plaider, d’expliquer quelle est la position de l’Union européenne et de quelle manière nous comptons sur l’engagement de la Chine afin d’agir de manière active, afin de participer à tous les efforts pour restaurer la paix et la stabilité.

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