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EU warns China of protectionist pressures

The European Union’s top foreign policy official warned on Friday that if the region’s trade deficit with China is not reduced, public sentiment in Europe could become even more protectionist, according to APNews.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, called for greater access for European companies wishing to export to or invest in China. He stressed that political leaders in Europe are under pressure from voters to refuse to co-operate with the world’s second largest economy. He claimed in a speech at Peking University, one of China’s top schools:

 “And we don’t want to disengage and much less, much less, to decouple from China.”

China’s trade deficit with the EU surpassed $17bn in September and reached $170bn in the first nine months of the year, according to the latest Chinese trade statistics.

Josep Borrell held talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday. He also became the latest EU official to visit China as the two sides lay the groundwork for a leaders’ summit later this year. Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson has visited Beijing this week and Economy and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis came there last month.

Borell believes China and the EU should forge co-operation to tackle jointly common problems such as climate change, global health and developing countries’ debt. He said:

“We believe that despite our considerable differences, that should not be underestimated, there is a lot of scope, a lot of room for us to work together.”

A US Senate delegation visited China earlier this week, following a series of visits by top administration officials as the two countries try to organise a meeting between Presidents Xi Jinping and Joe Biden in November. Chinese authorities are trying to ease tensions in trade and other relations with the EU and the United States, which are important export markets.

Borrell called on China to step up humanitarian aid to Ukraine, suggesting that China should launch a high-profile cultural initiative in response to the destruction of historical and cultural heritage during the hostilities.

He stressed that while the EU maintained ties with Taiwan, it did not recognise its independence. Borrell noted that the EU opposed the use of coercion and provocation, and that tensions between Taiwan and China should not be resolved by force, but only through dialogue.

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