The European Union and China held their 23rd bilateral Summit via videoconference on 1 April 2022. President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, held the Summit meeting with China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang, followed by exchanges with China’s President Xi Jinping.
President of the European Council, Charles Michel, said:
“As major global powers, the EU and China must work together on stopping Russia’s war in Ukraine as soon as possible. We have a common responsibility to maintain peace and stability, and a safe and sustainable world. Key international norms and principles must be respected. We count on China’s support to achieve a lasting ceasefire, to stop the unjustifiable war and address the dramatic humanitarian crisis it has generated.”
President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said:
“We underlined that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not only a defining moment for our continent, but also for our relationship with the rest of the world. There must be respect for international law, as well as for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has a special responsibility. No European citizen would understand any support to Russia’s ability to wage war. We also discussed how to cooperate on several issues like global food security, climate change and the fight against COVID.”
Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine
The EU and China discussed extensively Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, which is endangering global security and the world’s economy, as well as food and energy security. The EU highlighted that its key priority is to stop Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign country and a key EU partner. The EU also emphasised the importance for Russia to allow humanitarian access and safeguard humanitarian corridors, and to refrain from targeting civilian population and infrastructure.
Recalling the EU’s and China’s responsibility as global actors to work for peace and stability, the EU called on China to support efforts to bring about an immediate end to the bloodshed in Ukraine, consistent with China’s role in the world as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and its uniquely close relations with Russia.
The EU underlined that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine violated key norms and principles of international law as expressed in the UN Charter and the foundational documents of the OSCE, notably respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. By doing so, Russia purposefully undermined Europe’s security architecture, including the Helsinki Final act, the Charter of Paris and the Budapest Memorandum, to which it is party.
The EU recalled that the international sanctions against Russia were imposed with the sole purpose of stopping Russia’s aggression and despite a significant economic impact on the EU and its partners globally. Any circumvention of the effects of the sanctions or any aid provided to Russia would prolong the bloodshed and lead to even greater losses of civilian lives and economic disruption. The EU will work with its partners to bring Russia and those responsible for Russia’s war against Ukraine and for any violations of international and international humanitarian law to account. Any attempts to circumvent sanctions or to aid Russia by other means must be stopped.
The EU noted its disappointment with China’s unjustified sanctions, including against Members of the European Parliament, and coercive measures against the EU Single Market and Member States. It called on China to cease such actions for a more productive engagement that would benefit both sides.
The recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic remains a shared priority. Leaders discussed cooperation on the vaccination campaign and reopening of the economy. The EU confirmed its commitment to work with China and other Member States of the World Health Organization on a new agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.
The EU pointed to the need to address long-standing concerns related to market access and the investment environment in China, with the view to ensuring a balanced trade and economic relationship. Leaders mandated the High-level Trade and Economic Dialogue to find concrete ways to progress on these issues before the summer. They agreed to expand the EU-China Agreement on the Protection of Geographical Indications in the near future.
Leaders agreed to continue cooperation on climate change and energy transition, which is necessary to tackle this urgent global challenge. The EU stressed the importance of additional measures, including on phasing down coal, in the run up to COP 27 in Sharm-El Sheikh. The EU and China will work together to secure a robust and ambitious new global biodiversity framework at the COP15 in Kunming. The High-Level Dialogue on Environment and Climate will meet before the summer.
The EU raised the importance of a transparent and competitive environment for the digital economy, as well as trustworthy and ethical uses of artificial intelligence. It expressed concerns about increased cybersecurity threats and called for responsible state behaviour in cyberspace. The EU and China will resume the High Level Digital Dialogue.
The EU reiterated its concerns on the human rights situation in China, including the treatment of persons belonging to minorities and human rights defenders, pointing to individual cases, as well as on the dismantling of the “One Country Two Systems” in Hong Kong. The EU expects the resumption of a substantive Human Rights Dialogue to address these concerns.
The EU reaffirmed its commitment to its One China policy, while raising concerns about increased cross-strait tensions. Leaders also touched upon the situations in Afghanistan, Myanmar and on the Korean Peninsula.