An annual EU-China summit to be held in Brussels today is set to be overshadowed by differences over trade, 5G, human rights and investment. The differences are so great that they may prevent China and the EU from agreeing a joint statement at the summit.
Trade is said to be one of the main obstacles; like the United States, the EU accuses China of failing to open up its market sufficiently to foreign firms and has tired of China’s industrial subsidies, reports the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
The fact that the European Commission around a month ago presented a strategic vision in which it described China for the first time as a “systematic rival” illustrates the way in which the EU is beginning to adopt a more cautious approach to the world’s second-largest economy.
Germany and France in particular have changed their tone, although there is no common EU stance. Several countries in the East have entered into partnerships with China and Italy, as the first G7 country, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to participate in China’s massive Silk Road project.
Another sensitive topic is that of 5G; Huawei has been excluded from US 5G network procurement over spying concerns. Although the EU has not adopted a common strategy, a decision was made recently that member states must share information on 5G security risks by the end of the year.
Accusations have also been made that China is attempting to divide the bloc by negotiating with individual member states and investing in countries with weaker economies, such as those in Eastern Europe. Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, who will represent his country at the summit, has denied this is the case in an opinion piece in Germany’s Handelsblatt and said that China wishes to support European integration.
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