German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday as part of high-level talks between Beijing and the European Union that should reinvigorate stalled talks on an investment pact.
"We want more fairness".
The meeting took the place of a full in-person summit with all 27 European Union leaders that had to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Several members of the European Parliament wrote a letter ahead of the summit urging EU officials to "meaningfully address" China's human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Hong Kong.
The negotiations between the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Michel, Merkel and Xi Jinping ended with promises to speed up negotiations on an investment treaty before the end of the year.
Both sides have sought to enlist the EU in their spat and, during a visit to Brussels by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in June, EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrell mooted talks to forge a common transatlantic front against China.
Merkel said at the same press conference that "overall, cooperation with China must be based on certain principles - reciprocity, fair competition. We are different social systems, but while we are committed to multilateralism, it must be rules-based", she added.
"Now we have agreement on three important issues", von der Leyen told reporters.
Brussels wants the same level of access to agriculture and food markets that China gave to the United States in their phase 1 trade agreement struck in January.
"We called on China to keep their promises to the people of Hong Kong and the worldwide community".
Brussels says progress has been made on issues such as forced technology transfer, but still wants China to open up sectors such as telecoms, IT, health, financial services and manufacturing.
However, despite the critical remarks from European officials, the EU and China signed a deal to mutually protect exported food and drink items. It is only more imperative for China and the EU, as two major forces, markets and civilizations, to firmly grasp the general trend of mutual support and united cooperation in face of such situations, unswervingly promote the sound and stable development of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, to inject more positive energy into COVID-19 response efforts, economic recovery and championing justice, Xi said.
Germany is Europe's biggest pork producer and recently saw a surge in demand from China after it suffered an outbreak of the same disease.
China and the European Union (EU), as the world's two major forces, markets and civilizations, are facing important opportunities to develop bilateral relations, several Chinese experts on worldwide relations said. Germany, the EU's rotating presidency in the second half of 2020, has always been China's largest trading partner in Europe. "Thus, there are points of convergence ... but this does not mean that there is unanimity on this issue", she stated.
"We are really serious about having access to the Chinese market and tearing down the barriers", European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the news conference.
"The upcoming EU-China summit represents an idea opportunity to match the EU's rhetoric regarding human rights violations in China with concrete action", the MEPs wrote.