President of the European Council to meet Xi Jinping
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European Council President Charles Michel will travel to Beijing on December 1 for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a European official told Agence France Presse (AFP).

The same source, who confirmed information that had been advanced by the newspaper “Financial Times”, specified that the meeting would be officially announced this Thursday.

This meeting takes place in a context of intense discussions among Europeans about how they should position themselves in relation to China, in addition to the growing tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Charles Michel has to deal, on the one hand, with a country like Germany, which has important economic interests in China, and other Member States like Lithuania, which has drawn the ire of Beijing by establishing links with Taiwan, considered by China as an integral part of its territory.

On November 12, in Phnom Penh, a few days before the G20 summit, during which Xi Jinping met US President Joe Biden, Charles Michel asked Beijing to convince Russia to respect international law in Ukraine .

Also this month, in an incident that illustrates the tensions between Brussels and Beijing, the transmission of a speech by Charles Michel, scheduled for the opening of a fair in Shanghai, was canceled because the Chinese authorities wanted to censor him, in part, according to several European diplomats.

One of these diplomats specified that the Chinese authorities wanted to censor all references to the war in Ukraine in the speech. A touchy subject in China, which wants to be officially neutral but remains a strong strategic ally of Russia.

Relations between China and the European Union have deteriorated since the imposition of sanctions by both sides over allegations of human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region.

The European Union considers China a “partner, economic competitor and systemic rival”, according to the wording adopted in 2019.

Business ties remain strong between the two. One example is Germany, whose chancellor Olaf Scholz was the first G7 leader to visit China – at the end of October – since the beginning of the pandemic.

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