By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, June 23: The European Union (EU) and China’s 22nd EU-China summit held on Monday discussed human rights situation in Tibet among other bilateral issues. The EU-China summit held via video-conference saw participation from the President of European council, Charles Michel, Ursula von der Leyen, accompanied by High Representative Josep Borrell who joined the meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang followed by dialogues with Chinese president Xi Jinping.
President Michel said that the EU-China relationship has evolved in recent years and that both must work together on global challenges like climate action, meeting the Sustainable Development Goals or their dealings with COVID-19. “Cooperating with China is both an opportunity and necessity. But, at the same time, we have to recognise that we do not share the same values, political systems, or approach to multilateralism. We will engage in a clear-eyed and confident way, robustly defending EU interests and standing firm on our values,” the president further said.
President von der Leyen said that the pandemic and major bilateral and multilateral challenges show that their partnership is crucial but demanded reciprocity from the Chinese side, “But for our relations to develop further, they must become more rules-based and reciprocal, in order to achieve a real level playing-field.” EU stressed the need for implementation of mutual commitments made at 2019 EU-China summit in a dynamic and result oriented manner as progress has yet not been made.
It said that the Comprehensive Investment Agreement between EU-China needs to address the current asymmetries in market access and ensures a level playing field. It welcomed confirmation by China for their implementation in the recent China-US “phase 1” which dealt with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) without discrimination against EU operators.
The EU called on China to promote international peace and security, and adhere to international standards to support sustainable development, especially in Africa. It demanded China to fully participate in the independent review of lessons learned at the international response to COVID-19. EU also reiterated its disagreement over the national security legislation from Beijing and acknowledged that Hong Kong should be governed by its own constitutional law.
EU Leaders raised a number of individual cases, including the reports on citizens who have disappeared after reporting and expressing their views on the handling of the Coronavirus outbreak, along with the continued detention of Swedish citizen Gui Minhai and two Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.