China seeks support from Poland, Serbia after EU deal freezes

(Bloomberg) – China and the European Union are partners, not competitors, and cooperation will help both sides, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Polish counterpart as the Asian nation seeks support after the suspension of an investment agreement with the bloc.

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said his country believes that a China-EU investment deal is beneficial to both sides and that both sides should properly handle the disagreements, a Chinese government statement said on Saturday. .

Rau and the foreign ministers of Serbia, Hungary and Ireland are visiting China from May 29 to 31 after an invitation from Wang. Rau and Serbian Nikola Selakovic met him on Saturday in Guiyang, southwest China, in separate meetings.

EU lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a resolution this month to suspend ratification of an investment deal with China in response to sanctions against members of the bloc. China has retaliated against the United States, the United Kingdom and the EU for sanctions linked to allegations of human rights violations in the western region of Xinjiang.

The investment pact had been seen as proof of Europe’s independence from the United States and China’s ability to work with American allies who took a more moderate approach. Attitudes in several European capitals have become less favorable to China since the coronavirus outbreak fueled a series of diplomatic disputes.

Much of the global criticism of China has focused on its treatment of Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. China has waged a vigorous international campaign against these allegations, saying it is trying to fight terrorism and improve the livelihoods of minorities.

Poland understands and respects China’s legitimate rights and interests and wishes to make active efforts for the healthy development of EU-China relations, Rau said in the Chinese government’s statement. Poland also welcomes Chinese investment and will not adopt discriminatory measures against its companies, Rau said, adding that the country was also willing to increase agricultural exports to China.

In meeting with Selakovic, Wang said China supports plans by its Covid-19 vaccine makers to talk to Serbia about joint production in the European nation. The two sides agreed to step up cooperation on infrastructure and energy, including one on the Serbian section of the Budapest-Belgrade railway. The rail project is mainly financed by loans from China.

China’s cooperation with the countries of central and eastern Europe is economic and trade-oriented, and will help balance Europe’s development, Wang said.

© 2021 Bloomberg LP

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