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EU Council Chief Set to Meet Xi Jinping Next Month in Beijing

© AFP 2023 / THIERRY CHARLIERThe Chinese flag(L) is draped beside the European Union (EU) during an EU- China Summit at the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels on June 29, 2015
The Chinese flag(L) is draped beside the European Union (EU) during an EU- China Summit at the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels on June 29, 2015 - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.11.2022
The trip comes amid an exacerbating Sino-American rivalry, with the White House encouraging the EU to take a more hawkish stance towards Beijing. However, Brussels seems to be trying to recalibrate its ties with China.
Charles Michel will visit Beijing on December 1 to meet Xi Jinping and other senior Chinese officials. The two leaders are expected to discuss human rights, climate change, economic relations and global health. This summit follows a state visit by Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz, which took place earlier this month.
European Union and Chinese flags are pictured during an annual EU-China summit in Brussels, Belgium. - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.10.2022
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Despite all frictions, the EU economy is highly dependent on China. In 2011 Europe's trade balance deficit with China was 129 billion euros. Ten years later, it was nearly twice that, at 249 billion euros. While some European leaders deem it a problem, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto is strongly advising Europe against cutting economic ties with China.
"...if the ties between Chinese and European companies and businesses, the ties between the two economies are severed, it will have a tragic effect on the European economy," Szijjarto said.
However, not everyone in the EU is in a hurry to agree.
For instance, the strategic paper, prepared by the European External Action Service advised the EU’s 27 foreign ministers to treat China as an “all-out competitor” with “limited areas of potential engagement.” These state officials were urged to strengthen ties with the US and diversify supply chains away from China.
Just 3 years ago, the EU considered China a “strategic partner.” However Sino-European relations were spoiled by trade disputes and tit-for-tat sanctions, the paper notes.
According to this strategic document, there are several remaining areas for potential cooperation with China, including climate change, the ecology and health care. European dependence on Chinese semiconductors and rare metals was described as a “strategic vulnerability.”
A man stands near ]a mural depicting the ancient Silk Road during the Second Belt and Road Forum In Beijing on Friday, April 26, 2019 - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.11.2022
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Meanwhile, China has called for more pragmatism from the EU. As President Xi puts it, China and the EU are economically inter-dependent. These means that it is rational for both sides to maintain the stability of the international economy.

"China and Europe have formed strong symbiotic economic relations. The sides should expand bilateral trade and investment, maintain the stability and continuity of global production chains and supply chains, and protect international trade and economic rules and order," Xi said.

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