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How strong are EU-China ties?


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How strong are EU-China ties?

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This week on U Talk, Cheng of Brussels asks: “As China and the EU are celebrating 40 years of diplomatic ties, both sides say they want to deepen links. Today, how strong is the relationship?”

John Farnell, Senior Adviser at the Brussels-based EU-Asia centre, responds:

“China and the EU are very important trade partners for each other. Europe takes 20% of Chinese exports, China takes 10% of European exports from the EU.

And it is clear that not only trade but also investment is developing rapidly on both sides. Chinese investment in Europe has grown particularly fast in the years since the financial crisis, the euro has depreciated against the renminbi (yuan) by 25% in the last year.

But it is not an easy relationship. There are all sorts of difficulties. For the European side, there is the problem of getting access to the highly controlled Chinese market, the feeling that European investors are not being treated fairly in China, they are subject to more controls than their Chinese competitors. And there is also a concern that Chinese exporters may sometimes benefit from subsidies or cheap access to credit.

And for China, there is always a feeling that their status as a major economic power is not yet fully recognized by the EU. And they also have a number of minor concerns about getting more access to visas for workers here, getting easier conditions for investment.”

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