12/02/2020, 20.14
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Beijing sees investment deal by the end of the year, but Europe says not so fast

New negotiations are set for next week, but major disagreements remain. For German Ambassador, without open markets to European companies, the deal will not be signed. The EU also wants progress on human rights and pandemic. Biden is another factor.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Cooperation far outweighs differences between China and the European Union, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said yesterday during a phone conversation with his Slovenian counterpart Anze Logar.

Last week, Zhang Ming, China’s ambassador to the European Union, said that work on investment deal between his country and the EU was in its final phase and would be concluded as agreed by the end of the year.

The next round of negotiations (the 35th) starts next week, but the Europeans seem far less optimistic than their Chinese counterparts.

In an interview on Monday in the South China Morning Post, the German ambassador to China Clemens von Goetze clearly explained that an agreement can only be reached if Beijing accepts open market access and level playing field for EU companies as the EU does for China’s.

Like the United States, the EU has accused Beijing of using unfair trading practices, and of failing to guarantee fair treatment to European companies that want to invest in China.

To protect European industry, the European Commission has announced that it intends to adopt an instrument to address the "coercive" economic policies of other countries.

Above all, Europeans criticise the obligation imposed on foreign companies to hand over their technological secrets to the Chinese government if they want to operate in China.

Analysts note that Beijing has failed to exploit the disagreements between EU leaders and the Donald Trump administration to forge closer ties with the Union.

According to von Goetze, the Chinese must make progress on trade, human rights and transparency in the fight against the pandemic if they want to see a qualitative leap in relations with the EU.

After the approval of the new Hong Kong security law in June, Europeans have taken steps to sanction local leaders accused of suppressing dissent.

Europe is also calling for an independent mission to monitor the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, and an international investigation into the origin of COVID-19, which Beijing rejects.

US President-elect Joe Biden has called for the creation of a global alliance of democracies to meet the challenge posed by regimes like China’s. The EU is on the same wavelength.

On 23 November, during a telephone conversation, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell informed his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that the Union had entered into a bilateral dialogue on China with the United States.

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