12/21/2022, 13.50
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At WTO, China and EU at loggerheads Lithuania and intellectual property

The EU accuses China of "coercive" trade policies against Lithuania and violating the rights of European companies operating in its territory. In January, the EU will challenge China's veto in two special legal cases before the WTO. Relations between the two sides are increasingly difficult.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – China and the European Union are at loggerheads at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

China’s “coercive” policies towards Lithuania and the theft of intellectual property owned by European companies operating in the Asian giant's market are in the EU’s crosshairs.

According to the South China Morning Post, China has blocked two EU-initiated proceedings before the WTO Court of Arbitration.

For China, the EU's move is “puzzling” and "premature", while the two disputes could be resolved amicably through bilateral negotiations.

China’s veto will, however, be short-lived since, under WTO rules, it can only be used once, and the EU is ready to request a ruling in the two cases in January.

In one case, the issue of Taiwan has led to the breakdown of relations between China and Lithuania. In November 2021, the Taiwanese government opened a mission in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius under the name Taiwanese.

The move sparked an immediate response from China, according to which the failure to use the name Taipei is a violation of its One-China policy. For the Communist Party of China, the island is a "rebel" province to be forcibly seized if necessary.

Since then, the Chinese have cut trade relations with Lithuania, a coercive action denounced by the EU at the WTO.

With respect to the protection of intellectual property, the EU is challenging certain decisions by Chinese courts that prevent European companies present in China from protecting their hi-tech patents in foreign courts, including EU ones.

In case of violation of China’s rules, European hi-tech groups such as Nokia, Sharp and Ericsson risk daily fines of €130,000 or criminal charges.

The EU and China are each other’s main trading partner; however, bilateral relations have become increasingly strained in recent years.

The EU accuses China of unfair trade practices, repeated human rights violations, questionable handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, attempts to divide the European bloc, and support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

For its part, China wants the EU to gain greater strategic autonomy from the United States, especially in economic matters.

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