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Merkel wants China to be fair on investments

October 2, 2020

EU leaders have urged Brussels to look into reducing dependence on the US and China. Germany's Angela Merkel said the EU expected "reciprocity" on investments from Beijing, as the two sides hope to clinch a deal.

Chinese high-speed trains in Wuhan
Image: Getty Images/W. He

China was the hot topic for debate at a summit for European Union leaders in Brussels on Friday. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said any agreement on investment with Beijing must involve reciprocity, with firms in the EU enjoying the same freedoms to invest in China as China's do in Europe. 

The EU was also urged to explore other avenues so that it was not so dependent on the world's two largest economies – the United States and China. 

Merkel seeks fairness 

Chancellor Merkel said that there were too many hurdles for European companies to overcome when it came to investing in China and that Beijing had to do more to make it easier for companies to do business there. 

"For the investment agreement with China we naturally expect reciprocity," she told reporters in the Belgian capital.  

Read more: China launches sanctions scheme targeting foreign firms 

"If the Chinese side gives no market access in certain areas, that will naturally mean that access to the European market will also be more restricted." 

Chinese and European officials have been working for several years on a deal to protect foreign investments and reinforce intellectual copyrights and there remains hope an agreement can be reached this year. 

Read more: Are EU-China trade relations at a crossroads?

EU needs alternatives 

EU leaders also asked the European Commission to name strategic areas where the bloc relies too much on heavyweights such as China and the United States, and they want the executive branch to come up with alternatives.

Read more: Zhenhua data leak exposes China's new 'hybrid warfare'

The leaders said their industrial output needed to be more competitive, autonomous and robust after the coronavirus pandemic while highlighting the bloc's dependence on Chinese components in the manufacturing of drugs. 

After a two-day summit in Brussels, the leaders said the EU's executive should "identify strategic dependencies, particularly in the most sensitive industrial ecosystems such as for health, and to propose measures to reduce these dependencies."

European heads of state and government want to host a special summit on November 16 in Berlin regarding policy with China.

jsi/dj (Reuters, dpa)