Relations between the European Union and China require cooperation and trust on both sides, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters Monday after an EU-China summit.    

The EU has “one of the most strategically important and challenging” relationships with China, which is a “negotiating partner, an economic competitor and systemic rival,” said Von der Leyen.   

At their annual high-level meeting, top EU officials discussed four main topics with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping: COVID-19, economic cooperation, Hong Kong and international affairs.   

“We stressed our grave concerns about the proposed security law for Hong Kong,” said European Council President Charles Michel.   

“We called on China to follow the promises made to the people of Hong Kong and the international community regarding Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and guarantee of freedoms,” he added.   

The EU officials also raised concerns over the deteriorating human rights situation in the country, including the treatment of minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet and restrictions on fundamental freedoms.   

“Human rights and fundamental freedoms are non-negotiable,” Von der Leyen pointed out.   

Regarding economic cooperation, the EU urged China to strike an ambitious investment agreement that addresses various issues, including the regulation of market access, state-owned companies, state aid and forced technology transfer.   

The bloc hopes to sign an agreement with China on geographical indications in the near future as well.   

EU officials also reminded their Chinese counterparts about the importance of taking part in international politics and promoting peace and security as well as to share the global responsibility in efforts against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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