China gives EU stern ultimatum to clarify relations after top meeting

Blinken concerned over China’s ‘provocative actions’ in Taiwan Strait

China has urged the EU to “clarify” its position on its strategic partnership with Beijing, according to Beijing’s top diplomat Wang Yi after a meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

The launch of an EU-China comprehensive strategic partnership in 2003 aimed to go beyond trade and investment.

However, since 2019, the 27-nation bloc has referred to China as an “economic competitor” and a “systemic rival”.

Beijing’s close ties with Moscow following the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war have increased caution.

According to a readout from the Chinese foreign ministry on Saturday, Wang urged China and the EU to strengthen communication, enhance mutual trust, and deepen cooperation.

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He emphasised that the bloc should not “waver” or encourage back-peddling in words and actions.

Last month, EU leaders made a commitment to reduce the region’s dependence on China and discussed finding a balance between “de-risking” and cooperating, particularly in areas like climate change. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated in March that Europe needed to “de-risk” economically and diplomatically due to China’s hardening position.

The Commission is also urging EU members to agree on stricter controls for exports and outflows of military-use technologies to “countries of concern”.

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During the meeting with Borrell, Wang called for both sides to avoid politicising economic issues and using “de-risking” as a synonym for “decoupling”.

Wang also said that there is no fundamental conflict of interest between China and the EU.

Borrell described his talks with Wang on managing EU-China relations as “constructive” and “in-depth” in a tweet.

Regarding Ukraine, Wang stated that China supports a balanced, effective, and sustainable European security architecture. China will continue to promote peace talks and play a constructive role in seeking a political resolution to the crisis.

Borrell tweeted that he had “expressed EU expectations as to China’s role in helping to end Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and providing humanitarian assistance”.

He also mentioned that he and Wang “discussed preserving stability and the status quo in the Taiwan Strait”.

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