By Laurie Chen

BEIJING (Reuters) – The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Saturday his message to Chinese officials on a Beijing visit had been that Brussels takes China seriously and expects the same in return on geopolitical issues and trade.

“Cooperation is very much important,” Borrell told a press conference ending a three-day visit that had twice been postponed.

“Europe takes China very, very seriously,” he said. “We also expect to be considered not through the lens of our relationship with others, but in ourselves.”

The 27-member bloc has long complained it does not receive adequate attention from Beijing, particularly compared to the United States, and that China does not sufficiently recognise the EU’s agency in geopolitical affairs.

“Since the war in Ukraine, Europe has become a geopolitical power,” Borrell said. “We want to talk to China with this approach.”

He said he discussed with Chinese officials the crisis in Israel and Gaza, and announced that his chief of staff, Enrique Mora, would be visiting Beijing next week to continue to engage Chinese officials on geopolitical issues.

On Friday, Borrell met Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who described the talks as “comprehensive, candid and friendly”.

The two discussed EU-China trade tensions and a broad range of hot-button issues, including the Israel-Hamas conflict and China using its influence on Russia to stop its war in Ukraine.

“We are facing a critical moment in Gaza and we cannot say that the problem in Gaza will be solved by the two-state solution because the world has been failing miserably,” Borrell said on Saturday.

“But what we discussed with my Chinese counterpart is that it is the only solution that can be implemented,” he added.


The EU’s record $426 billion trade deficit last year with the world’s second-largest economy has become a major sticking point in the relationship.

Last week Brussels launched an investigation into whether to impose tariffs on Chinese electric vehicle (EV) imports it says benefit from state subsidies.

“We have a lot of geopolitical issues to consider, but certainly this was discussed, and I told my Chinese counterpart that to launch an investigation is just to launch an investigation,” Borrell said.

During talks in Beijing last month, China’s economy tsar, He Lifeng, asked EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis to “exercise restraint in the use of trade remedy measures”.

The EU plans to open an anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese steelmakers this month, the Financial Times has reported.

Beijing has also objected to EU plans for a “carbon border adjustment mechanism” that will set tariffs of 20% to 35% on goods with a high carbon price, such as steel and iron ore.

The EU and China plan a summit by the end of the year, with Borrell’s visit and those of a number of other top EU officials in recent months having paved the way.