During its annual summit with China yesterday the Union expressed its disappointment, targeting trade policies, cyber-attacks and disinformation campaign. Von der Leyen: "Serious consequences for the security law for Hong Kong". Analysts: The EU will have to follow the facts with words.
Brussels (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The European Union attacked China yesterday over the many failed promises of recent years. This is what emerged at the end of the annual summit with Beijing, which saw European leaders meet by videoconference with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Prime Minister Li Keqiang.
European Commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen, explicitly criticized Beijing for its delays in opening up its domestic market and ensuring equal treatment for European companies in China. In particular, the Union has demanded Xi and Li lift the obligation for foreign companies to transfer their technological intellectual property to a Chinese partner in order to operate in China.
The EU also accused Beijing of failing to make progress even with regard to the reform of the World Trade Organization. The Union points the finger at the unfair commercial practices of the Chinese, such as state export subsidies and dumping (the sale of goods below cost). European leaders say, if China does not budge in these areas, the two sides will not be able to enter into a large investment agreement by the end of the year.
Von der Leyen also had harsh words for Chinese cyber-attacks on computer systems in the Union and among its Member States. Beijing is also accused of launching a vast disinformation campaign on the European response to the pandemic crisis, then trying to take advantage of this to strengthen bilateral relations with those EU countries most willing to align with the Chinese geopolitical agenda.
On Hong Kong, European leaders reiterated their opposition to Beijing's new security law. They said the measure violates the international commitments made by the Chinese government for the return of the former British colony under its sovereignty in 1997. Von der Leyen spoke of "very negative consequences" for China if the legislation is adopted.
Xi defended himself by arguing that China has no hegemonic aim, and that cooperation with Beijing will open up new development spaces for Europe.
Analysts observe that while the Union has clearly expressed its disappointment in the Chinese giant, the litmus test is whether these words will followed by the adoption of practical measures should Beijing persevere in not living up to its promises.