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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen Calls for the EU to De-Risk from China

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

30 March 2023 – Today, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gave her first full speech on European Union (EU)-China relations at the European Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS). Ahead of her visit to Beijing with French President Emmanuel Macron next week, she asserted Europe needs to be "bolder on China".

The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK) Foundation’s UK & EU Director, Mark Sabah, said:

“President von der Leyen’s speech is significant for the future of EU-China relations because it provides a basis from which EU countries can call out the Chinese Communist Party for being the threat that it is. I urge the EU to remain cautious in its future engagements with Beijing as it increasingly poses a political and economic threat as well as aligns itself with Russia despite its invasion of Ukraine. China’s trade deal with the EU should continue to be reviewed and revised until the EU is assured that China is ready to play fair.”

Highlights from President von der Leyen’s speech include:

  • The EU should be bolder on China, which has become “more repressive at home and more assertive abroad” including in Xinjiang, Taiwan, and Lithuania.

  • The EU should implement an economic de-risking strategy, rather than de-coupling, to address the increasing influence of the Chinese Communist Party.

  • The EU will reassess the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), and may terminate the pursuit of this landmark EU-China trade deal.

  • The EU will make its own economy and industry more competitive and resilient.

  • The EU will examine national security concerns regarding export controls.

  • The EU will develop new defensive technologies for critical sectors including artificial intelligence, robotics, and biotechnology.

  • The EU will defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine and be frank with China regarding the fact that any peace plan that consolidates Russia’s annexation efforts is not viable.

  • The EU remains open to diplomatically engaging with Beijing, particularly on climate change.

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