Beijing wants to meet EU leaders, amid fraying ties with US

China and Europe are partners, not rivals, said Chinese top diplomat Wang Yi. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MUNICH – China and the European Union should prepare for a meeting of their leaders, Beijing’s top foreign policy official said, a sign of the Asian nation’s efforts to court Europe amid worsening ties with the United States.

China and the EU should “bring bilateral exchanges back to pre-epidemic levels as soon as possible”, Mr Wang Yi told EU counterpart Josep Borrell on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

“Both sides should maintain openness and cooperation, resist decoupling, and work together to maintain the stability of the global production and supply chains,” Mr Wang said in the statement released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing on Sunday.

China and Europe are partners, not rivals, he said, adding that China stands ready to enhance exchanges and understanding, and deepen mutual trust with Europe.

China has been lobbying nations to cooperate on technology as the US reached an agreement with the Netherlands and Japan in January to restrict exports of some advanced chipmaking machinery to China, partly to curtail military advances. 

China’s push could take on added urgency amid tensions with the US. Mr Wang told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the same conference that Washington should change how it is handling the balloon episode, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The US shot down a Chinese balloon spotted flying over its territory earlier in February.

Mr Blinken said the balloon’s entry into US airspace was an “irresponsible act that must never again occur”, and warned China against helping Russia evade sanctions linked to the invasion of Ukraine, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

China’s President Xi Jinping held talks with Mr Charles Michel, president of the European Council, and Dr Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, via video link in April 2022.

Late in 2022, Mr Xi met Mr Michel in Beijing, where the Chinese leader urged efforts to resolve the war in Ukraine.

Mr Wang and Mr Borrell also discussed Ukraine in their meeting on Saturday, with Mr Wang saying that China “insists on promoting peace and talks, and is willing to strengthen communication with the EU and persevere in finding a political solution”.

The Chinese top diplomat also met Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra in Munich, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Mr Wang said he hoped that the Netherlands would “play a positive role in ensuring the stability of the global industrial and supply chains and promoting global economic recovery”.

Noting that the Netherlands is a founding and core member of the EU, Mr Wang said the country is a gateway to China-Europe cooperation. Beijing also appreciates that the Netherlands regards China as an important partner of Europe. BLOOMBERG, XINHUA

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