BRUSSELS (TSTIME) — Charles Michel, President of the Council of the European Union, will travel to China next week for talks with President Xi Jinping to address the economic imbalance between the two trading giants and the Asian country’s relations with Russia and neighboring Taiwan. grab.
The one-day visit on December 1 will try to balance the EU’s desire for more exports to China and the need to stand firm with Beijing in defending democracy and fundamental freedoms, officials said on Thursday. While China has increased its global influence in recent years, the EU has increasingly seen it as a strategic rival.
It will also be an opportunity to show a united face of the 27 country bloc after German Chancellor OIaf Scholz made a solo visit to China early this month.
During that visit, Scholz urged China to exert its influence over Russia and expressed human rights concerns. Michel will look to build on that journey as the EU looks to hold its own against an increasingly assertive and authoritarian China.
The visit also comes amid high tensions over Taiwan and follows a UN report saying China’s human rights violations against Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in the Xinjiang region could amount to crimes against humanity.
On the other hand, Michel will try to improve the economic position of the EU in the economic juggernaut.
The EU currently has an annual trade deficit in goods and services of around €230 billion.
The EU is specifically trying to reduce its dependence on China for tech equipment and the raw minerals used to make microchips, batteries and solar panels, among other things.
The visit was limited to just one day due to the strict COVID-19 restrictions still in place in China.