French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with China’s President Xi Jinping on Monday for a virtual meeting to discuss the bloc’s relationship with China. The trio discussed a wide range of issues from climate change to human rights but the focus of the meeting centred around boosting connectivity and trade between the two sides. It comes as President Xi vowed to “ensure ties” with EU in order to “move forward together” following a cooling of their relationship due to China’s human rights record. But in a shocking revelation, the EU will press on for closer ties with the East Asian powerhouse.
According to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency, Xi Jinping said: “What China craves for most is to develop itself rather than replace others”.
He added how Europe and China should “view each other’s differences in a correct way” and “rationally handle divergences”.
But in a concerning admission, he stressed the two sides should “ensure ties between the two sides move forward”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office confirmed the efforts to better European Union-China relations.
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Her office said: “They also discussed international trade, climate protection and biodiversity. The conversation also revolved around cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, global vaccine supply, and international and regional issues.”
While Mr Macron’s office confirmed “European expectations on access to the Chinese market and fair competition conditions”.
The push for closer ties comes as back in May, members of the European Parliament halted the ratification of the new EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment pact with China until Beijing agreed to lift sanctions on EU politicians.
The EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment was instigated by the EU because it perceived an “unfairness” between the “investment situation” for European Businesses and yet China could not do the same in the bloc.
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The latest meeting of the trio comes as a vote in May saw only 30 out of 599 members of the European Parliament voted in favour of re-opening trade relationships with China.
The situation in Western China, in which the halting of the pact centres around, is considered by western nations to be a genocide as footage and first-hand accounts emerge from inside the centres where hundreds of thousands of the Muslim minority are being held by Chinese government officials.
Reports suggest mass sterilisation, abuse, torture and rape take place inside such centres in what the Chinese authorities call “re-education” centres.
China refutes allegations and insists the centres are part of an “anti-terror” programme.