Xi: Eliminate all interference

Chinese president Xi Jinping told top EU officials that China and Europe should not view each other as rivals or engage in confrontation due to their different political systems, in the first in-person China-EU summit in four years.

During the meeting to discuss issues ranging from trade imbalances to Ukraine, Xi also said that China is willing to make the European Union a key economic and trade partner, and to cooperate on science and technology, including artificial intelligence.

He also urged the EU in the meeting held at Beijing’s Diaoyutai State Guesthouse to “eliminate all kinds of interference” in the bilateral relationship, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will also meet Chinese Premier Li Qiang on their one-day visit. It will be their last chance to get face time with top Chinese officials before the European Parliament elections kick off next year, triggering changes in the bloc’s leadership.

Both sides have sought to play down expectations ahead of the summit, with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi warning Beijing-based diplomats from EU member states on Monday that Europe should choose “peace and stability” over a “new Cold War”.

A European official told journalists in Brussels earlier this week that “there’s not a single outstanding deliverable that will be crowning the summit,” adding that there will not be a joint statement.In another blow to EU-China relations, member state Italy officially informed China “in recent days” that it is leaving the Belt and Road Initiative championed by Xi, Italian government sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

A string of EU Commissioners have visited Beijing since China lifted pandemic border restrictions this year, including the bloc’s trade and climate chiefs, but little progress has been made on core irritants in the relationship. Most recently, Borrell’s chief of staff and senior EU diplomat Enrique Mora visited in November.

The European Union wants Beijing to use its influence on Russia to stop the war as well as urge Xi to stop Chinese private companies from exporting European-made dual-use items to Russia for its war efforts. — Reuters

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