3rd Dec 2022

China looks to EU as 'biggest partner'

The EU and China have strengthened their increasingly close relationship with the signing of two important agreements in Beijing on October 30.

One secures China's backing for Galileo, the EU's satellite navigation project, and the other relaxes visa restrictions for Chinese tourists visiting Europe.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Chinese Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, told a joint news conference after the summit: "We hope the European Union will become our biggest partner in economic and trade relations".

China is currently the EU's third largest trading partner, with trade worth 86 billion euro in 2003, according to the Financial Times.


China has pledged to invest 200 million euro in the EU's Galileo project, despite intense objections from Washington.

The Galileo project, which will cost an estimated 3.25 billion euro, represents a departure by the EU from its reliance on America's Global Positioning System (GPS).

The Pentagon is opposed to the EU developing its own independent satellite system, insisting that GPS provides an adequate satellite umbrella.

The Commission insists that, unlike GPS, Galileo will not be under military control.

For its part, China hopes that its involvement in the Galileo system will help it to upgrade its communications systems, and provide greater accuracy for a broad range of civilian activities.

India is set also to participate in the Galileo project, the EU's Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio revealed on October 30. The details will be finalised at an EU-India summit next month, but India is expected to invest 300 million euro in the scheme.

"Third countries are more enthusiastic than certain European countries about Galileo", said the Commissioner.

Visa restrictions

In the hope of boosting the number of wealthy Chinese tourists visiting Europe, the EU has decided to relax its visa restrictions for the country.

Under the new system, which will cover only the Schengen area and therefore exclude countries such as Britain, approved Chinese travel agencies will be given preferential treatment for visas, provided that holidaymakers all return to China.

But critics of the initiative say that it could be open to abuse by Chinese people smugglers, says the Telegraph.

Human rights abuses

During the summit, both sides "agreed to continue their ongoing dialogue on human rights on the basis of equality and mutual respect".

But this is not enough to satisfy human rights campaigners, who have been demanding that the EU increase pressure on China to improve the protection of civil and political rights.

Concerns raised by Amnesty International include the continuing use of the death penalty in China's "strike hard" campaign on law and order, the use of detention without charge or trial, and the repression of Buddhist monks in Tibet and of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

Human Rights Watch has been publicising China's treatment of those suffering from HIV/Aids, including a cover-up of the spread of the infection by state-run blood collection centres. It also cites repression of those campaigning for autonomy in Xinjiang and for trade union rights.

A spokesman for the European Commission, Diego Ojeda, defended the outcome of the summit, saying that the existing dialogue with China remained "the best instrument" to improve human rights in the country.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

Socialists opposed parliament taking Qatar rights stand

The socialists in the European Parliament are leading compromise talks on human rights in Qatar despite voting against putting the issue to a plenary vote. The move comes after the Left demanded that the European Parliament take a stand.

No top EU officials going to Qatar World Cup

None of the four top EU officials are going to the Qatar World Cup amid a stink on human rights, but some are more brave than others in criticising the gas-rich emirate.

Moldova hit by spillover of Russia's war

Last week, the EU pledged €250m to help Moldova tackle the energy crisis consisting of €100m in loans, another €100m in grants, and €50m directed to help the most vulnerable citizens.

Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?

Over the last 10 years, Portugal has given 1,470 golden visas to people originating from countries whose tax-transparency practices the EU finds problematic. But unlike common practice in other EU states with similar programmes, Portugal has not implemented "due diligence".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU must break Orbán's veto on a tax rate for multinationals
  2. Belarus dictator's family loves EU luxuries, flight data shows
  3. How Berlin and Paris sold-out the EU corporate due diligence law
  4. Turkey's EU-funded detention centres ripe with abuse: NGO
  5. In green subsidy race, EU should not imitate US
  6. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  7. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  8. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us