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China to host European Union leaders for one-day summit Thursday

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Top representatives from the European Union will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other key leaders this week, their first in-person summit since 2019 aimed at easing tensions between the bloc and Beijing, according to Bloomberg.

The Chinese leadership will meet with European Council President Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Premier Li Qiang will jointly chair the summit with the two European leaders, the ministry said in a statement on Monday. 

Bloomberg News reported earlier that the meetings would span two days, citing people familiar with the matter. 

The summit follows a series of high-level meetings between the two sides this year on issues including trade and foreign policy. The EU’s trade chief, Valdis Dombrovskis, visited China in September, followed by the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell in October. 

The EU has set out a new strategy of de-risking from China by reducing its dependency in critical sectors and supplies, while stressing it won’t decouple from the world’s second-largest economy. The bloc’s decision to launch a probe into Chinese subsidies for electric vehicles in a bid to ward off a flood of cheap imports has inflamed trade tensions.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Monday that China and the EU are “partners not rivals.” “Our common interests far exceed our differences,” he said. 

The agenda for this week’s visit will include trade, as well as China’s position on Russia’s war in Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East, according to an emailed statement from the Delegation of the European Union to China on Monday. That email also said Borrell would also accompany Michel and von der Leyen. 

“The leaders will discuss ways of ensuring a more balanced and reciprocal trade relationship, as well as areas of shared interest such as climate change, food security, global health and pandemic preparedness,” the statement added.