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EU Commissioner Calls for China Trade  09/25 06:46


   BEIJING (AP) -- The European Union's trade commissioner called for a more 
balanced economic relationship with China on Monday, noting an EU trade deficit 
of nearly 400 billion euros ($425 billion), while also warning that China's 
position on the war in Ukraine could endanger its relationship with Europe.

   Valdis Dombrovskis, in a speech at China's prestigious Tsinghua University, 
said that the EU and China face significant political and economic headwinds 
that could cause them to drift apart.

   "The strongest, yet not the only, headwind is Russia's war of aggression 
against Ukraine, and how China positions itself on this issue," he said.

   Dombrovskis spoke before high-level economic and trade talks with Chinese 
Vice Premier He Lifeng. EU leaders have expressed concern about the bloc's 
growing trade deficit with China, which reached 396 billion euros last year. 
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recently announced an 
investigation into Chinese subsidies to electric vehicle makers, saying a flood 
of cheaper Chinese cars is distorting the European market.

   The Chinese government has called the investigation a protectionist act 
aimed at distorting the supply chain. Dombrovskis, in his Tsinghua address, 
said the probe would follow well-established rules and be done in consultation 
with Chinese authorities and stakeholders.

   The EU trade commissioner urged China to address the lack of reciprocity in 
the economic relationship, saying "the figures speak for themselves."

   He said that China has created a more politicized business environment to 
protect its national security and development interests, resulting in less 
transparency, unequal access to procurement, and discriminatory standards and 
security requirements.

   Dombrovskis cited as examples a new foreign relations law and an updated 
anti-espionage law that has European companies struggling to understand their 
compliance obligations.

   "Their ambiguity allows too much room for interpretation," he said about the 
laws, adding they deter new investment in China.

   Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that China provides a 
market-oriented, law-based business environment for foreign companies.

   "As long as the companies are operating in accordance with the law, they 
don't have to worry," he said.

   Chinese officials have been trying to lure back foreign investment to help 
the economy emerge from a sluggishness that has persisted despite the lifting 
of pandemic restrictions last December.

   The Chinese government has tried to remain neutral in the war in Ukraine 
rather than joining the United States and much of Europe in condemning the 
Russian invasion. Dombrovskis, who is Latvian, noted that territorial integrity 
has always been a key principle for China in international diplomacy.

   "Russia's war is a blatant breach of this principle," he said. "So it's very 
difficult for us to understand China's stance on Russia's war against Ukraine, 
as it breaches China's own fundamental principles."

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