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European Council Conclusions on China, 30 June 2023: Balancing Cooperation and “De-risking”

In the European Council’s summit held on 30th June 2023, EU leaders reaffirmed their commitment to reducing the bloc’s dependence on China while exploring ways to strike a balance between cooperation and “de-risking” in various domains, particularly in light of climate change concerns. The European Union’s approach towards China has evolved to consider it both a partner and a competitor, while acknowledging its role as a systemic rival.

Despite the differences in political and economic systems, the EU and China share a common interest in fostering stable relations rooted in the rules-based international order, reciprocity, and balanced engagement.

Shared Interests and Stable Relations:

The European Union and China share a common interest in maintaining constructive and stable relations based on respect for the rules-based international order, balanced engagement, and reciprocity.

Addressing Global Challenges:

The European Union will continue engaging with China to tackle global challenges. It encourages China to take more ambitious action on various fronts, including climate change, biodiversity, health and pandemic preparedness, food security, disaster reduction, debt relief, and humanitarian assistance.

Trade and Economic Partnership:

The European Union recognizes the importance of its trade and economic partnership with China. It seeks to ensure a level playing field, aiming for a balanced, reciprocal, and mutually beneficial trade relationship. The European Union will also work towards reducing critical dependencies and vulnerabilities in its supply chains, promoting de-risking and diversification where necessary and appropriate. However, it emphasizes that decoupling or turning inwards is not the intended approach.

Upholding International Order:

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China holds a special responsibility in upholding the rules-based international order, the United Nations Charter, and international law. The European Council calls on China to exert pressure on Russia to cease its war of aggression, urging an immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.

Regional Stability:

The European Union expresses concern about growing tensions in the Taiwan Strait and emphasizes its opposition to any unilateral attempts to alter the status quo through force or coercion. The EU reaffirms its consistent ‘One China policy’ and recognizes the strategic importance of the East and South China Seas for regional and global prosperity and security.

Commitment to Human Rights:

The European Union remains firmly committed to promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The European Council welcomes the resumption of the Human Rights Dialogue with China. It reiterates concerns regarding forced labor, the treatment of human rights defenders and minority groups, the situation in Tibet and Xinjiang, and China’s adherence to its previous commitments related to Hong Kong.

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European Council Conclusions on China, 30 June 2023: Balancing Cooperation and "De-risking"_40.1