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On Tuesday, the 18th of April Beijing hosted the 7th European Union-China

Strategic Dialogue where Federica Mogherini, EUs High Representative for Foreign

Affairs and Security together with Chinese State Councilor, Yang Jiechi, chaired the

first high-level encounter between the two parties, after the American presidential

elections. The meeting came ahead of the Belt and Road Forum for International

Cooperation planned to take place in Beijing in mid-May and the EU-China annual

Summit scheduled for Brussels in June.

The agenda of the discussions encompassed topics such as trade,

investment, innovation, people-to-people exchanges and other areas, according to a

press release published by the Chinese side, both sides agreed to work with each

other on the Hamburg G20 Summit, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Voices claimed that the Strategic Dialogue Meeting was just one of the

multiple steps China has taken in its charm offensive with the EU in an intend to find

allies in the context of the America first protectionist policies that America is

currently promoting.

A meeting between premier Li Keqiang and Federica Mogherini took place the

same day and emphasized the importance of the relations between the EU and

China on matters of free trade and open engagement in the context of this

complicated and changeable international order and considering the rise of the anti-

globalization and protectionism trend.

Mogherini declared in an interview for Xinhua that The European Union and

China share the view of a global order based on multilateralism and on the UN

system: our cooperation has never been so important, in a moment when multilateral

global governance is put in question from many sides,


The discussions developed from both sides in such a manner that the

suppositions made by the Chinese specialists after Donald Trump took office that an

axis between Beijing and Brussels will form and it will represent an alternative to the

relationship between the United States and China, that has dominated the trade world

for the last decade, seems more accurate than ever.

President Xi Jinping has stated at the World Economic Forum in Davos that China will

become a champion of free trade and stability while speaking against protectionism,

this was the speech Federica Mogherini referred to in Beijing when she said it raised

high expectations that China and the European Union can work together on

multilateralism, on rules-based global order" and trade.

Nevertheless, China and the EU has also many disagreements that cast a

shadow on their relationship, such as the difficulties European and other foreign

companies have faced while trying to acquire Chinese assets or that they are barred,

or sharply restricted in telecoms, information technology, finance and other promising

industries in violation of Beijing's free-trading pledges, meanwhile Chinese

companies are buying major global brands and investing massively in Europe (with a

77% increase in 2016). The EU is also concerned of China's massive steel exports,

its militarization of islands in the South China Sea and a turn towards greater

authoritarianism under President Xi Jinping.

From the other perspective Beijing wants the EU to grant its market an

economy status, China urged the EU to fulfill its obligations under Article 15 of the

protocol on Chinas accession to the WTO at an early date so as to give a positive

signal on backing a free and open multilateral trading system. Yang said that the

hope is for EU lawmakers to change their stance on the matter soon. Other dispute

points between Beijing and Brussels include China's increasingly restrictive

environment for civil society and internet censorship.


The two parties are nonetheless aware of these disagreements and it was the

Chinese premier who said during his meeting with the EU official that: By settling

differences through dialogue, bilateral relations will develop within the rule-based

framework of international order, thus injecting vitality for the world economy. Li

Keqiang also referred to the bilateral investment treaty that the EU will sign with

Beijing, that is said to make it easier for European companies to do business in

China.

Federica Mogherini will continue her diplomatic visit in Asia, next stops being

India and Russia.