Europe should not be influenced by other nations in its relations with Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a meeting with Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides on Tuesday as reported by the South China Morning Post.
Chinese-EU relations should “not be affected by external interference” but should advance “towards win-win cooperation”, Wang said, adding Beijing regarded the 27-member bloc as a major force for a multipolar world.
“China-EU consensus outweighs differences. The two sides are partners, not systemic rivals. China and the EU should understand and respect the choices of each other’s people, actively expanding common interests and enhancing mutual trust,” he added.
The news comes as officials have hailed the deal as a success, despite criticisms over alleged human rights abuses and forced labour in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), which Beijing has repeatedly denied, the report read.
But according to a recent interview with CNN, the deal has triggered concerns in Washington, where President-elect Joe Biden’s administration aims to boost soured ties between the US and EU, as well as work with European allies.
“We are confident we can develop a common agenda on issues where we share deep concerns about China. And it’s not just on trade, it’s on technology. It’s on human rights. It’s on military aggression,” incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN at the time.
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FM Wang Yi’s comments come after he announced four-point strategy to increase EU-China ties in August. The goals come amid efforts to tackle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and meet UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The news comes after Brussels and Beijing struck the deal ahead of New Year’s Eve last year, with the agreement being confirmed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
According to EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) was the “most ambitious outcomes that China has ever agreed with a third country”.
The agreement comes just days after the EU and United Kingdom struck a post-Brexit trade deal on Christmas Eve and Beijing inked the 15-member Regional Cooperative Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest deal in history, in November.