BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, along with the EU’s chief executive and chairman, hold challenging discussions on issues including trade, climate change and human rights at an online summit on Monday.
Earlier, they signed a deal to protect each other’s exported food and drink products.
The talks are focusing on the following topics:
The two sides have been negotiating an agreement on the conditions under which companies would be able to invest in the other’s economy, with the EU wanting China to open its market and end what it says are discriminatory laws.
They have agreed to accelerate talks in order to conclude a deal. The EU says progress has been made on issues such as forced technology transfer, but wants China to open up sectors such as telecoms, IT, health, financial services and manufacturing.
Brussels also wants the same level of access to agriculture and food markets that China gave to the United States in their phase 1 trade agreement struck in January.
China believes the investment accord should be a stepping stone to a free-trade agreement.
The EU wants China, the world’s top polluter, to bring forward the year of peak emissions to 2025 from 2030. It is also urging Beijing to commit to achieving climate neutrality by 2060.
China is planning to an emissions-trading system, but the system has still not started. Other developing nations are reluctant to move if China does not.
HUMAN RIGHTS/HONG KONG
The EU is critical of the arrests of dozens of pro-democracy activists this year in Hong Kong, including two opposition lawmakers last month.
The bloc has added its voice to an international outcry over a new national security law in the former British colony, saying Beijing is undermining basic rights in the Chinese-ruled territory.
The EU has also protested against China’s Uighur Muslim crackdown. The United Nations estimates that more than a million Muslims have been detained in camps in the Xinjiang region.
EU officials say China has sought to pressure EU countries that criticise its handling of COVID-19, by using social media to spread fake reports of European neglect of patients. Beijing has denied wrongdoing.
The EU is also concerned about investment in European technology by state-subsidised Chinese firms and said it would be particularly vigilant on critical areas such as micro-electronics and artificial intelligence.
Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Robin Emmott; Editing by Pravin Char
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