Charles Michel on December 1 in Beijing for talks with Xi Jinping

©AFP

European Council President Charles Michel will travel to Beijing on December 1 for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Michel announced this on Thursday via Twitter. The European and Chinese leader will discuss global challenges as well as topics of common interest.

ltoSource: BELGA

The meeting comes in a context of intense debates between Europeans about how the Union should position itself against China. On the one hand, Charles Michel has to reckon with a country like Germany, which has major economic interests in China, and other countries like Lithuania, which have incurred the wrath of Beijing by strengthening ties with Taiwan.

Earlier this month, Michel had already called on the Chinese to convince Russia to respect international law in Ukraine. But still in November, the broadcast of a speech by Michel at the opening of a trade fair in Shanghai was cancelled. According to European diplomats, Beijing wanted to partially censor that speech. It was about references to the Russian war in Ukraine. This is a sensitive issue in China, which officially appears neutral, but remains an important strategic partner of Russia.

Relations between the EU and China have deteriorated since mutual sanctions were introduced following allegations of human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region. According to a wording that was given the green light in 2019, the European Union considers China to be “a partner, an economic competitor and a systemic rival”.

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