Press Releases China: Press remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell after concluding his visit to the country

China: Press remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell after concluding his visit to the country

Good morning,

Thank you and sorry for being late, but many things are happening in the world today. There are 6 hours difference between Beijing and Europe and I have to take care [also] of other events.

Finally, I am in China. I tried to come twice. For one reason or another, the travel had to be postponed. Finally, I had the opportunity to come. I am very happy.

I had two intense days in Shanghai and in Beijing. I came here with the purpose of holding the [EU-China] Strategic Dialogue with [my] Chinese counterparts in order to prepare the next summit between the European Union and China that will take place before the end of the year. There have been other dialogues with some of my colleagues of the European Commission that came here before me on [over] the last weeks and yesterday we had the Strategic Dialogue on our political approach.

It was mainly focused on three issues. First, our bilateral relations. [It was] important to [tell] to [my] Chinese counterpart, the Director and Foreign Minister Wang Yi that for China and Europe cooperation is very much important, that Europe takes China very seriously and we also expect to be considered, not through the lens of our relations with others, but in ourselves. Because since the war in Ukraine, Europe has become a geopolitical power. We started being a trade power, after [being] an economic power. Now, the war in Ukraine has converted us in a geopolitical power, not just an economic one and we want to talk with China from this approach. Do not look at the European Union relations through the lens of the relations with others.

Second message just to tell clearly that for us Russia represents a huge threat for our security and that we are committed to support Ukraine facing the Russian invasion and asking China to take into consideration this very tough position from our side, considering Russia as a security threat for the whole European Union.

And then, that we have to rebalance our economic bilateral relations. We have a huge deficit that has increased 60% in the last years. And this should not be the consequence of just a competitive disadvantage between the European Union and China. It must be other structural reasons related with the market access encountered by European firms here in China.

We discussed a lot about the causes and consequences of this huge deficit, knowing that today the exports from China towards Europe are at the highest level in the history and that the technological revolution is changing the pattern and the structure of the goods that we exchange.

The conclusion is that despite our differences, there is still a space for cooperation. Yes, we don’t have the same political system, which is not a secret. We don’t have the same economic system, that is not a secret neither. But despite the differences, we believe that there is still a space for cooperation and the most important challenges that the world is facing cannot be solved without a strong engagement with China.

The first one is climate change. China is burning as much coal as the rest of the world together, in spite of the strong development of renewables in China’s energy mix. The increase of coal powered electricity production in China is offsetting the reduction in the rest of the world. So, [there is] no way of solving the climate change problem without a strong engagement and partnership with China.

We can say the same thing about the level of debt of the emerging countries and the possibility of having a new debt crisis on the way. We have to look at that because China has become the biggest creditor of the emerging economies.

Then we discussed about regional issues, and obviously we had to focus at the Middle East situation, where the spiral of violence following the attack by Hamas in Israel is threatening the stability of the whole region.

After that we considered many other regional issues of common interest, ranging from Afghanistan to the crises in Africa. It is not that we have a shortage of crises to talk about, there are too many and certainly we didn’t exhaust all of them. Next week, my political director, Mr. [Enrique] Mora, will come to Beijing and will continue with the dialogue on many other regional issues that we couldn’t discuss.

We talked also about the situation of human rights, in general and in some particular cases.

But the most important, crucial part of our discussion, apart from the bilateral relations, was obviously the situation in the Middle East. You know that before coming to China, I was in Oman, where I co-chaired the European Union – Gulf Cooperation Council [Ministerial meeting] and held an informal Foreign Affairs Council with my colleagues, [EU] ministers who were in Oman and the others joined by videoconference.

We agreed that the international community should do the utmost in order to prevent a further aggravation of the situation that could spill over the region. We reaffirmed the firm condemnation of the indiscriminate attacks by Hamas and called for the stop of violence, any attacks against civilians and the release of hostages.

With my Chinese counterpart, we discussed it and we certainly agreed that the only long-term solution to this crisis, that comes one after the other, every two, three or four years, is to work on the solution of the Two States, that we believe could survive these tragic events.

As I said, we didn’t exhaust all crises that we should talk about. Next week, my political director will continue. But it is important to summarise the three elements of our discussions: our bilateral relations, our trade deficit, and the posture with respect to the war in Ukraine were the most important ones.

With respect to the war in Ukraine, I insisted to our Chinese counterpart on the need to not support militarily Russia. Until now, China is not providing arms to Russia. And it’s important. I asked him to help us avoiding circumvention of sanctions. We discussed about the war in Ukraine. We know that the position of China. But I make a strong insistence on the fact that seen from the European lenses the war in Ukraine is not against Ukraine, is not only affecting Ukraine, [it] is affecting the security of the Europeans and is sending shockwaves around the world. And I asked China to use their influence to make Russia go back to the [Black Sea] Grain Deal initiative to [allow] the Ukrainian grain to be exported to the rest of the world. Otherwise, we will face another food crisis. It has been a very interesting discussion.

I had also the opportunity of delivering a lecture at the Peking University. I thank a lot the academic authorities for inviting me. And I also had the opportunity to discuss in Shanghai with Institute for International Relations, where together with some Chinese scholars, we had an interesting discussion about the role of China in the world and the relationship between China and European Union.

Thank you.


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