European Union leaders will fly to Beijing this week for a summit to discuss economic issues, China’s foreign ministry has revealed.
The talks on Thursday will see leaders from both sides discuss strategic and global economic issues of common interest, a spokesperson said.
“China and Europe are partners, not rivals … our common interests far outweigh our differences,” Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a regular press briefing on Monday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Wang said.
“We will explore ways to solve problems through dialogue and consultation,” Wang said, adding that “we will cooperate to meet global challenges and inject new impetus into the world and increase stability in the international situation.”
The summit follows several high-level meetings between the EU and China in Beijing in recent months, seeking to find common ground in their complex relations.
EU move to cut dependence on China
The European bloc had the middle of this year committed to cutting dependence on China and debated how to strike a balance between “de-risking” and cooperating in areas such as climate change.
In September, EU agreed to set up dispute settlement mechanisms when its Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis visited Beijing, less than a fortnight after the European Commission launched a probe into whether to impose punitive tariffs on cheaper Chinese electric vehicle imports to protect EU producers.
The following month, EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell told Chinese officials that Brussels took China seriously and expected the same in return on geopolitical issues and trade.
China last month said it will temporarily allow visa-free travel for citizens of some countries including France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
While talks have focused largely on trade, economy and politics, Human Rights Watch’s EU director Philippe Dam urged Michel and Von der Leyen to press China on rights violation issues.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard