A huge trade relationship has emerged as China and the EU meet to discuss Russia

Hong Kong
CNN Business

China and Europe’s top leaders will meet on Friday as their broad and growing trade relationship could be overshadowed by disagreements over Russia and other geopolitical tensions.

At a virtual EU-China summit, Beijing is expected to face pressure from one of its main trading partners over war in Ukraine, which, according to the European Union, will be the main focus of the negotiations. Chinese President Xi Jingping and Premier Li Keqiang will also discuss business relations, human rights and climate change with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen.

Europe sells more goods with China than anyone else. But in recent weeks, concerns about Beijing have grown in the West refusal to judge Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Senior EU officials tried unsuccessfully to persuade Beijing to push Moscow towards de-escalation,” Eurasia Group experts wrote on Tuesday. “[They] will now seek to enlist Xi, but there is a sense in Brussels that China has no interest in putting pressure on Russia.

The rift over the Russia-Ukraine crisis contrasts with economic ties between China and Europe that have strengthened during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s a look at where everything is and what’s at stake.

China refrained since the vote on the United Nations Security Council resolution condemning in February Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which worries many Western countries.

“How China handles this conflict will have an impact on EU-China relations in the future,” Reinhard Butikofer, head of the European Parliament delegation for relations with China, told reporters ahead of the summit.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel on March 25.

A statementEU leaders said they would focus on “the international community’s commitment to support Ukraine, the dramatic humanitarian crisis caused by Russian aggression, its destabilization of the international order and its inherent global impact.”

China has acknowledged tensions in the room but rejected any claims of wrongdoing.

“The current international situation is volatile,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news conference on Wednesday.

Beijing already did urged United States – which together with the European Union imposed a strict sanctions against Moscow – not to violate its “legitimate rights and interests”, adding that China and Russia “will continue to cooperate in normal economic and trade cooperation”.

China has long sought to drive a wedge between the United States and the European Union, with officials and state media often stressing the importance of the bloc’s “strategic autonomy” from Washington.

Despite the pressure, China and the European Union are highly dependent on each other for hundreds of billions of dollars in trade each year.

China overtaken United States 2020 will become Europe’s largest trade partner in goods, and the total trade value will reach 588 billion. euros ($650 billion), according to the EU Statistical Office. Eurostat.

Shipping containers are stacked at Lianyungang port in 2022.  March 31  Lianyungang City, Jiangsu Province, China.

in 2021 the trend remained: the total trade of goods between China and the EU reached 695.5 billion. EUR (about USD 777 billion), compared to EUR 631.4 billion EUR ($704 billion) US-EU trade.

According to Eurostat, China was the EU’s number one source of imports and the EU’s third largest export country after the United States and the United Kingdom.

Europe’s trade with the world’s second-largest economy has grown significantly over the past decade. 2011-2021 China recorded some of the EU’s highest annual growth rates for imports and exports, Eurostat said. report.

But the European Union still considering The United States is its largest trading partner in terms of trade in services and foreign investment. China ranks second in this regard, followed by the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

Cars, machinery and telecommunications equipment are among the most traded goods between Europe and China.

In Europe, cars and vehicle parts are the most popular exports, while aviation and electrical equipment are also popular.

Meanwhile, baby carriages, data processing machines, furniture and other household items are among China’s biggest sellers to Europe. Many products arrive in the Netherlands, home to Europe’s largest port in Rotterdam.

The region’s largest exporter to China is Germany, which accounts for 104.7 billion.

However, tensions are currently high over one particular, a much smaller EU country: Lithuania.

Month of January. The European Union released A case has been filed against China at the World Trade Organization, accusing Beijing of “discriminatory trade practices” against the Baltic state.

A statement, The European Commission said China began “severely restricting or de facto blocking imports from Lithuania and exports to or linked to Lithuania” after allowing self-ruled Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in its name in Vilnius.

The movement was infuriating The Communist leadership in Beijing, which considers Taiwan part of its territory, although it has never ruled it.

At that time, Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, when asked about this told reporters that “China abides by WTO rules.”

“The problem between China and Lithuania is political, not economic,” he said.

Janka Oertel, director of the Asia program at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the case is likely to be top of mind for EU leaders on Friday.

“Brussels will need to send a strong signal of unity to deter further attacks – implied or overt,” she said.

There is also little hope for reviving the plan China-EU investment deal, which was previously stood on the shelves on Beijing’s sanctions against MEPs over their stance on Xinjiang.

Analysts at Eurasia Group said it was a “non-starter” just yet, given the current spate of problems.

— CNN’s Beijing bureau, Irene Nasser, Julia Horowitz, James Frater, Martin Goillandeau and Luke McGee contributed to this report.

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