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EU and China to Begin Talks on New Cooperation Treaty


The European Union and China begin negotiations this week on a comprehensive treaty that will include passages on climate change and energy security. The EU says cooperation by energy-hungry and heavily polluting China is crucial to any progress on the climate issues. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

The EU's external relations commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, met with Chinese leaders in Beijing this week as the two sides made preparations to map out the future of EU-China relations.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing Thursday, Ferrero-Waldner said the EU and China were two of the most important and significant emerging powers in the world, and the impact of their joint actions is considerable.

"Together the European Union and China make up nearly a third of the world's population. That means where we agree to act together it makes a difference not only to our own people, but in reality, to the world," she said.

She says the prospective Partnership and Cooperation Agreement will deal with 22 areas, including trade, energy, science and technology, agriculture and the environment.

Ferrero-Waldner says the EU places special emphasis on issues related to climate change, which will be included in the treaty for the first time.

The EU announced last Wednesday the ambitious goal of achieving a 20 percent cut in its 1990-level emissions by the year 2020.

However, Ferrero-Waldner says the EU cannot effectively battle climate change without China's participation.

"China is currently bringing on stream one coal-fired power plant nearly every week. And, the rise in greenhouse gases could easily offset any reductions that would be made by the European Union," she said.

She says it will take around two years to complete negotiations on the treaty.

She says the separate issues of when to lift the EU arms embargo against China and to grant China market economy status would not be a part of these negotiations.

The EU has not allowed weapons sales to China since Beijing used military force in 1989 against pro-democracy demonstrators in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds.

Ferrero-Waldner says China needed the proper human rights environment before the ban could be lifted.

She says Beijing must release political prisoners from 1989, ratify the United Nations' international covenant on civil and political rights, and abolish forced labor camps.

She says granting market economy status was a purely technical issue, and that China still needed to make more progress in opening its markets.

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