Saturday

16th Feb 2019

Focus

No time for press at 'globally important' EU-China meeting

In a room behind closed doors in the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, the EU and China on Wednesday (18 April) declared their mutual intent to bolster cultural ties between average people.

"Both sides would like to upgrade their co-operation ... to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences," the joint declaration, signed by EU education and culture commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and China's state councillor Liu Yandong, says.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Liu (l) and Vassiliou. 'The Chinese are very attached to protocol,' an EU official said (Photo: European Commission)

"Deepening understanding and mutual trust [is] vital to EU-China relations," it adds.

The scheme makes it easier for Chinese and European students, academics and artists to work overseas by boosting mutual recognition of qualifications and subsidising language training.

At a day-long forum with Chinese officials and academics from both sides of the globe, Vassiliou said: "our work here today is of the highest global importance."

Despite the top billing, there was no press conference to let journalists quiz China's top delegate, state councillor Liu Yandong - one of the 24 members of the Politburo, the governing body of the Communist Party, which includes President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

Liu's visit comes amid one of the biggest scandals in the contemporary history of Chinese politics.

He former Politburo colleague, Bo Xilai, was removed from his post earlier this month and his wife was charged with the murder of a British businessman who is suspected of helping them transfer large sums of money abroad.

EUobserver understands that the Chinese delegation was reluctant to meet the Brussels press corps amid efforts to stop talk about division in its top ranks. "The Chinese are very attached to protocol," one EU official told this website.

Speaking on the record, Chinese diplomat Wang Xining blamed lack of time. Vassiliou spokesman Dennis Abbott said there was no press event "for logistical reasons."

It is not the first time that the commission and Chinese VIPs have side-stepped media in the EU capital.

In November 2010, EU officials tried to block four government-critical Chinese journalists from entering the EU Council building for a post-summit press conference for "security" reasons. They were let in after other reporters complained, but China cancelled the press event.

"The Chinese impose media censorship everywhere they go. But what surprised me was that it [happened] in the Council, an EU building," one of the Chinese reporters, Lixin Yang, told EUobserver at the time.

An EU official later admitted the affair was "embarassing."

China slowdown is bad news for Europe

China's economy so far this year grew slower than ever in the last three years, spelling bad news for its biggest trading partner, the European Union.

No trade war with China, EU presidency says

Business between the EU and China is running as usual, despite highly-public trade differences between the two economic powerhouses, the Danish trade minister has said.

China urges Germany and France to solve euro-crisis

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Thursday offered vague promises to buy bonds from troubled euro-countries, but said that it is ultimately up to Germany and France to solve the crisis.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Agenda

Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK

Brexit talks will continue in Brussels, as UK PM Theresa May's government is trying to find a way out of the political impasse at home. Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee will speak at the European Parliament next week.

Saudis paying College of Europe to lobby MEPs

The Bruges-based College of Europe is setting up private meetings with the EU institutions for seven ambassadors plus seven high-level officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us