ANI Photo | China cancels EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell’s Beijing visit

China has cancelled European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy Josep Borrell’s visit to Beijing, The Diplomat reported citing the EU. The development comes amid the ongoing disagreements between China and EU over trade, human rights and the Ukraine conflict.
Josep Borrell was due to land in China on July 10 for talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang and other officials, EU ambassador to Beijing announced on Saturday. According to EU Ambassador to Beijing Jorge Toledo, Chinese and European diplomats were due to discuss topics, including trade, human rights and China’s stance on the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, The Diplomat reported.
The European Union said that China has cancelled Borrell’s visit. However, they have not revealed the reason behind the cancellation of the trip. EU spokesperson Nabila Massrali in an emailed statement said, “Unfortunately, we were informed by the Chinese counterparts that the envisaged dates next week are no longer possible and we must now look for alternatives,” The Diplomat reported.
Nabila Massrali said, “It is for China to communicate on the reasons.” She added, “We will adapt and find together a new date.” Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister spokesperson Wang Wenbin in a press briefing on Wednesday said that Beijiing attaches high importance to its ties with EU. He further said that Beijing welcomes Josep Borrell to visit China at an early date of mutual convenience.
Responding to question regarding cancellation of Borrell’s China visit, Wang Wenbin said, “China attaches high importance to relations with the EU and maintains exchanges with the EU at all levels in various fields. We welcome High Representative Josep Borrell to visit China at an early date of mutual convenience. We will continue to stay in contact with the EU side.”
According to EU, Borrell was initially scheduled to visit Bejing in April. However, EU’s top diplomat had to postpone his trip to China after testing positive for COVID-19. While the reason for cancellation of Josep Borrell’s visit to China is not clear. However, the development comes after EU member states summit held last week. During the summit, the bloc endorsed a strategy to attempt to procure critical materials from sources other than China and stressed that it did not want to entirely “decouple” from Beijing, The Diplomat reported.
Furthermore, the EU member states affirmed the bloc’s “multifaceted” stance on China, which the EU describes as “simultaneously a partner, a competitor and a systemic rival.” The “system rival” designation by EU and Europe’s efforts to reduce dependency on Chinese trade and supply chains has irked Beijing, according to The Diplomat.
Meanwhile, EU members have called on China to press Russia to stop war and immediately and unconditionally withdraw its troops from Ukraine. During visit to China, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron made similar requests.
Josep Borrell has been particularly critical of China’s stance on Ukraine conflict, the report said. The EU also opposes a change in the status quo of China’s ties with Taiwan even though Beijing continues to threaten to take over the island which it regards as a breakway province.

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