November 20, 2013 / 2:01 PM / 6 years ago

China's Xi calls on EU leaders to open to Chinese business

China's President Xi Jinping attends a meeting with former U.S. President Bill Clinton (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, November 18, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping called on European Union leaders on Wednesday to eschew protectionism and create a more healthy environment for Chinese businesses during the first EU-China summit since Xi’s government took power earlier this year.

Xi met President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso in Beijing on Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.

Europe is China’s most important trading partner and for the EU, China is second only to the United States. But the bilateral relationship has been weighed down by a series of trade rows ranging from steel and wine to solar panels.

“Both sides should expand trade and investment cooperation and promote the negotiations of investment agreements, oppose all forms of protectionism and promote the development of an open world economy,” Xi was quoted by the foreign ministry as telling Vam Rompuy and Barroso.

“(I) hope the EU can create a good environment for Chinese businesses to carry out economic and trade cooperation,” he said.

The summit comes on the heels of the High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (HED) that was held in Brussels on October.

EU leaders said they looked at the summit as a chance to establish the direction of relations with China for the next decade under Xi, who took office in March.

Both sides are expected to announce the launch of talks on a bilateral investment treaty, which Europe hopes will reduce barriers to investment in China and provide more legal certainty for its companies.

Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee

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