BRUSSELS — European Union Council President Charles Michel will visit China next week for talks with President Xi Jinping to address the economic imbalance between the two trading giants and the Asian nation’s relationship with Russia. and neighboring Taiwan.
The one-day visit on Dec. 1 will seek to strike a balance between the EU’s desire to increase exports to China and the need to stand firm with Beijing in defending democracy and fundamental freedoms, they said. officials said Thursday. In recent years, as China has increased its global influence, the EU has increasingly come to view the nation as a strategic rival.
It will also be an opportunity to show a united face of the 27-nation bloc, after German Chancellor OIaf Scholz made a solo visit to China earlier this month.
During that visit, Scholz urged China to exert influence over Russia and raised human rights concerns. Michel will try to leverage the trip as the EU seeks to stand up to an increasingly assertive and authoritarian China.
The visit also comes amid high tensions over Taiwan and follows a UN report that China’s human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in its region of Xinjiang could constitute crimes against humanity.
On the other hand, Michel will seek to improve the economic position of the EU in the economic juggernaut.
Currently, the EU has an annual trade deficit in goods and services of around €230 billion.
The EU specifically seeks to reduce its dependence on China for technological equipment and raw minerals used to make items such as microchips, batteries and solar panels.
The visit was limited to one day due to the strict COVID-19 restrictions still in place in China.