5 things you won’t hear at ‘April Fool’s Day’ EU-China Summit – POLITICO

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It may be the April Fools’ Summit, but there are some things Chinese President Xi Jinping and EU leaders just can’t say to each other. Even as a joke.

The stakes couldn’t be higher when it comes to outlining the new contours of the global order.

The big question is how closely the Chinese will stick to Russian President Vladimir Putin in his bloody attack on Ukraine. In truth, the answer is either “narrow” or “very narrow”. Xi has called Russian President Vladimir Putin his “best friend,” and EU leaders say they have “very reliable evidence” that Beijing has considered sending military support to Putin’s troops in Ukraine. China also blames NATO for the crisis and supports the Kremlin’s desire to rewrite Europe’s future security architecture – much against the will of the EU and NATO.

All eyes are now on whether Beijing will do anything to help Russia circumvent Western sanctions – and what its two co-hosts, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the Presidents of the European Commission and European Council, will do in response.

Here’s what you can’t expect:

“We’re sorry about our friend Vladimir. We don’t want to be in his gang anymore.”

China is not blushing over its ‘rock-solid’ relationship with Putin. Beijing has made it clear that while it does not want the war to continue, it will not abandon the people who started it. Far from it. in one Meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday said his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi the two countries had “withstood the new test of the evolving international landscape, remained on the right track and demonstrated resilient development momentum.” An EU official speaking ahead of the summit confirmed Beijing’s desire to “play a balancing act”. “I don’t think that’s going to change fundamentally. It is in [the EU’s] interests to ensure the equilibrium position does not become over-support beyond the declaration,” he added.

Let’s put the past to rest and unfreeze the investment contract.

Brussels took a hard pause on an EU-China investment deal last May, shoving the outcome of seven years of negotiations in the freezer amid sanctions linked to China’s crackdown on its Muslim minority in Xinjiang. As long as Members of the European Parliament are under sanctions, this will not move an inch. No progress is expected at the summit. Diplomats this week said China’s adherence to International Labor Organization standards was still a sticking point — not to mention the challenge of convincing lawmakers to ratify an investment deal with a country that is currently sanctioning its peers.

OK, we overreacted a bit by trying to crush Lithuania. We’re cool with them now.”

China is still bent on beating Vilnius into submission to provide a cautionary tale about what happens to small democracies that play nice to Taiwan. Beijing has imposed a trade embargo on Lithuania after the Baltic nation and Taiwan deepened diplomatic and trade ties. China sees this as a violation of the “One China” policy. The EU, which has sole responsibility for trade issues, took action against China on Lithuania’s behalf at the World Trade Organization. Von der Leyen, as head of the commission, will most likely ask China to drop the punitive measures. However, do not expect any weakening from China as long as the Taiwan representative office in Lithuania remains open.

“Sure, come to Wuhan anytime to see our labs. Bring the family.”

Health is definitely on the menu – but don’t expect a serious debate about the origins of COVID-19. Beijing continues to balk at efforts to get to the bottom of the coronavirus outbreak, despite the theory that it was leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology largely rejected. China reacted with outrage to a World Health Organization plan to audit labs last year, accusing the probe of “arrogance towards science”. Western leaders are calling for new international health regulations that would require countries to be more transparent in the event of an outbreak. At the end of February, Russia objected to such a US proposal for reasons of sovereignty.

“Maybe we can just go back to buying each other’s stuff and forget about this new Cold War.”

The EU is in no mood to make things easy for China. Diplomats preparing for the summit say they expect the two EU leaders to tell Xi “very clearly” that Russian aggression is “central” to the future of EU-China relations, and it will be no peak like the business its usual.

“We will not sugarcoat our differences with China,” an official said. “Our citizens would not expect our two presidents to behave in this way.” China may have hoped to focus more on cooperation at the summit, such as on climate change. But those questions of potential commonalities will all take a back seat now. Officials say von der Leyen and Michel Xi will say “how much the Chinese people appreciate the economic fruits of the West and have a yearning for European-made luxury products” – clearly a warning of what could, should, follow he “the current balance and over-support of Putin violate the requirements.”

Giorgio Leali and Ashleigh Furlong contributed coverage.

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