The European Union has started talks with China on a sweeping new treaty to govern relations in 22 areas, including trade, the environment and human rights. This is to replace a pact signed more than 20 years ago. These negotiations could last about two years, though there is no formal timetable. In the meantime, the EU’s External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner has announced the creation of a new Europe-China law school in China and other projects – with a joint budget of 100 million euros.
Brussels regularly complains that China does too little to protect patents and copyrights, exposing European companies to pirates copying films, software, fashion and machinery; Also that Chinese manufacturers regularly undercut prices unfairly in numerous sectors, for instance footwear and textiles.
Another priority in the talks is global warming. China, the world’s fourth-largest economy and second-biggest energy user, is on course to overtake the United States by 2009 as the biggest creator of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.