The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, and the Chinese State Councillor/Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, held the 11th EU-China Strategic Dialogue by video conference on 28 September 2021. They discussed EU-China relations, international and regional issues - including Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Indo-pacific. They also touched upon global challenges like climate change and the fight against the pandemic.
Reviewing developments in EU-China bilateral relations, the High Representative reaffirmed the validity of the EU’s multifaceted approach towards China, in all its dimensions. The High Representative noted that while disagreements still persisted, the EU and China needed to continue engaging intensively in a number of important areas.
The High Representative welcomed the second EU-China High-Level Environment and Climate Dialogue held on 27 September, which testified to the importance of major economies’ rising climate ambitions making a crucial contribution to a successful COP26. He welcomed China’s decision to cease external coal power finance. They also exchanged on the importance of provision of vaccines in developing countries, with the High Representative underlining the EU’s substantial contribution to COVAX.
The High Representative stressed the necessity to engage on human rights issues and to resume the EU China Human Rights Dialogue, as a key component of a mature relationship. He expressed his hope that the next meeting could take place before the end of the year. This will be crucial to address the disagreements between the EU and China. In this context, they also discussed the situation in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
When discussing Taiwan, the High Representative stressed that the EU had always been, and would continue, applying its One China policy consistently. At the same time, the EU and its Member States have an interest to develop cooperation with Taiwan, a like-minded and important economic partner in the region, without any recognition of statehood.
The Strategic Dialogue also touched upon the EU Indo-Pacific Strategy, with the High Representative highlighting its inclusive nature and cooperative approach. On the recently announced defence agreement between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom (”AUKUS”), the High Representative welcomed the joint statement by Presidents Biden and Macron. He also referred to his fruitful exchanges in the margins of UN General Assembly, including with his US counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The High Representative and the State Councillor had the opportunity to exchange views on other international and regional issues. On Myanmar, they noted that the EU and China shared interests and concerns for the country as well as for regional stability. On Afghanistan, the High Representative referred to the need for strong coordination among international partners on political and humanitarian aspects, and for carefully calibrating future engagement for the good of the Afghan people.