China, EU to reach investment agreement within 2020, signed food protection deal

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The EU and China have been in talks since 2013 on a bilateral agreement that would ease Chinese restrictions on European companies.

Following a video conference that brought together German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU summit chair Charles Michel, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the bloc's representatives said the ball is in China's court to meet a 2020 target date for sealing the long-sought investment deal.

Brussels says progress has been made on issues such as forced technology transfer, but still wants China to open up sectors such as telecoms, IT, health, financial services and manufacturing.

"The Chinese market remains open to the EU".

Earlier, they signed a deal to protect each other's exported food and drink products.

The summit was initially envisioned as the scene for a major breakthrough in EU-Chinese relations.

It will also send a positive signal that China and the European Union are committed to strengthening communication and cooperation, jointly safeguarding multilateralism and free trade, and maintaining world peace, stability and prosperity, Shi said.

China is planning to set up an emissions-trading system, which is yet to get going.

"We were asked to conclude negotiations this year - this may be hard, because there are a number of systemic issues that still need to be addressed", Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commission's executive vice president in charge of economic policy, told the Financial Times in June.

The two sides need to forge China-EU digital partnerships, Xi said, adding that China has put forward its global initiative on data security, and hopes that the EU will work with China to formulate standards and rules of the global digital field and promote the sound development of global governance in digital economy. The EU criticised the arrests of dozens of pro-democracy activists this year in the former British colony, including two opposition lawmakers last month.

That came as Chinese President Xi Jinping co-hosted a China-Germany-EU leaders' meeting Monday evening in Beijing via video link with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country now holds the EU's rotating presidency, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

China and the European Union should also give full play to their respective advantages and work even closer to fast-track the development, production and distribution of effective treatments and vaccines, and make sure those live-saving tools are accessible and affordable.

"We reiterated our concerns over China's treatment of minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, and the treatment of human rights defenders and journalists", Mr Michel said.

One of the signatories was French MEP Raphael Glucksmann, who urged Angela Merkel and Von der Leyen to adopt a strong European stance in response to the "deportation" of more than one million Muslims to detainment camps in the Xinjiang region.

"The upcoming EU-China summit represents an idea opportunity to match the EU's rhetoric regarding human rights violations in China with concrete action", the MEPs wrote.

The EU's goals include eliminating limits on EU investment in China such as equity caps and joint venture requirements.

Brussels has preferred a middle path, treating Beijing as both a potential partner and a "systemic rival".



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