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EU Hails Breakthrough With China on Industry Subsidies

EU Hails Breakthrough With China on Industry Subsidies

China on Tuesday said it would push further to open its economy and deepen ties with the European Union, which has grown increasingly wary of Beijing's influence in Europe.

However, negotiations are expected to remain deadlocked as both sides struggle to agree on a set topic for the summit.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived here Monday for the 21st China-European Union (EU) leaders' meeting.

China firmly supports the European integration process, the EU's unity and growth, and Europe's more important role in global affairs, said the Chinese premier.

China's acquiescence to a seven-page communique followed months of intense European diplomacy against the backdrop of US trade talks with China and what French President Emmanuel Macron called "an end to naivety" about Chinese power.

The EU is increasingly unhappy that markets in Europe are wide open to Chinese companies, while the equivalent is not the case in China.

Beijing and Brussels have been wrestling for weeks over the text of a joint declaration to be presented as the fruit of Tuesday's summit between Li and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council chief Donald Tusk.

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"Both sides will intensify the discussions with the aim of strengthening worldwide rules on industrial subsidies", the two global trading powers said in a joint statement.

Diplomats reached an eleventh-hour accord on a draft communique after China made concessions on wording about industrial subsidies that removed a European veto threat, said one of the officials, who asked not to be identified by name.

The annual meeting, where little is actually decided, comes as Brussels is trying to better define its approach to the Asian giant on trade matters and security.

During Chinese President Xi Jinping's trip to Italy last month, he signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for his government's signature Belt and Road (BRI) initiative to connect China and Europe.

Italy's move ran against the Commission's 10-point plan proposing a more assertive relationship with Beijing.

Tusk also said human rights were "as important as economic interests" and called for the EU and China to engage on a dialogue on the matter, highlighting "serious concerns" from the European side.

After Brussels, Li was heading to Croatia for a so-called 16+1 summit that offers a chance for Europe's former communist countries to meet alone with Beijing, in a gathering that has ruffled feathers in the rest of Europe. The Chinese trade balance is largely in surplus with the bloc at 184 billion euros ($207 billion), according to Commission figures.