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EU’s Michel to meet Xi as Europe forges own path on China

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European Council President Charles Michel will travel to Beijing on December 1 to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, as the European Union grapples with how to treat China amid pressure for a tougher approach from the US, Bloomberg reports.

The EU and Chinese leaders will discuss global challenges as well as subjects of common interest, “against the backdrop of a tense geopolitical and economic environment,” according to a Council statement. The bloc’s relationship with China has been strained by its closer ties to Russia and its refusal to condemn Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The visit follows a trip to China by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz earlier this month and calls by French President Emmanuel Macron for engagement with Beijing.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has made efforts to coordinate with other key chip-making nations in resisting US pressure to impose sweeping chip curbs on China. 

Still, the US and EU aim to work together to counter what they call non-market policies, including in China, according to a draft statement obtained by Bloomberg ahead of high-level talks due in Washington next month.

EU member states in October held a strategic discussion on the bloc’s relations with China, with some leaders calling for a harder look at its role as a “systemic rival,” while the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said it was increasingly becoming a “tough competitor.”