A confident, united EU front will have long-term effect on China, Commission president says

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen addresses a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the start of the German Presidency by video conference at the EU Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium July 2, 2020. John Thys/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Thursday that a confident, united European front would have a long-term effect on China, in response to China’s passage of a national security law for Hong Kong that drew global condemnation.

“I think if Europe takes a confident and takes a united position, it will have a long-term effect on China,” von der Leyen, said in an online press conference, speaking alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel via video link.

Acknowledging that the European Union has good cooperation with China on topics such as tackling climate change, von der Leyen said the relationship is more complex on topics such as human rights.

“There are other topics, indeed where we have a more complex relationship and where we are very critical, for example on the topic of the human rights. And indeed, the EU is the biggest trading partner for China, so China also has a strong interest in Europe.”

Reporting by John Chalmers, Marine Strauss