Accessibility links

EU Officials Visit China in Bid to Improve Trade Relations - 2003-10-30


A European Union delegation headed by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is in China for talks on trade and human rights.

The European delegation met with President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to discuss several issues aimed at strengthening ties between China and the 15 nations of the European Union.

One of the main issues is an agreement for China to join Galileo, a European satellite program that is meant to rival the U.S. Global Positioning System.

The EU visit follows a stop in Beijing by Commerce Secretary Donald Evans.

Like Mr. Evans, the Europeans were expected to press Chinese officials to revalue their currency, the yuan. A number of nations accuse China of keeping the yuan artificially low, in order to flood foreign markets with cheaper Chinese products.

Another proposal would relax European immigration restrictions to allow Chinese tour groups to get European visas more easily.

Such proposals are seen as positive developments in growing ties between the European Union and China, which is seeking to counterbalance a large economic, but sometimes politically rocky relationship with the United States.

Not all of the discussions between the Chinese and EU officials were expected to be positive.

An EU policy paper issued last month said human rights violations stand in the way of China's further economic progress. Officials intend to bring up the issue with Chinese leaders. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said Chinese officials would seek to avoid friction over the issue of human rights. "China and the European Union have maintained dialogue with each other," she said. "And this dialogue has been conducted smoothly. China maintains that confrontation is not a choice for both sides."

The London-based human-rights advocacy group, Amnesty International, this month urged EU leaders to press China to improve its human-rights record.

XS
SM
MD
LG