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Merkel: Challenge with China is finding right balance between values and interests

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a news conference following a video conference with Germany's state premiers on extending coronavirus restrictions at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany November 25, 2020. Odd Andersen/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - Europe must stand up for its values in its dealings with China, but given the country’s sheer population and economic importance, there will always be a trade-off between the EU’s values and its interests, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

Merkel was speaking at an online conference of legislators from across the continent, in which several had demanded that she push for a tougher line on human rights violations in the country.

“We must define our own European interests, and this also includes common ground (with China) on foreign policy, on economic policy and digital policy and many more,” she said.

“The challenge over the next years in relation to China lies in finding a good balance between fighting for our values and our interests.”

China’s stronger-than-expected economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is complicating efforts by Merkel’s government to diversify trade relations and become less dependent on Asia’s rising superpower.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Michael Nienaber