BRUSSELS — Ursula von der Leyen isn’t making friends in China.
The Commission president did not pull any punches in a speech Thursday about China — sparking blowback from Chinese diplomats.
Fu Cong, China’s ambassador to the European Union, said Friday he was “a little bit disappointed.”
“That speech contained a lot of misrepresentation and misinterpretation of Chinese policies and the Chinese positions,” Fu told state-owned broadcaster CGTN.
“Whoever wrote that speech for President von der Leyen does not really understand China or deliberately distorted Chinese positions,” he added.
In in a scathing address delivered Thursday, the head of the European Commission called on Europe to be “bolder” on China, arguing that Beijing has become “more repressive at home and more assertive abroad.”
For the first time, von der Leyen gave hints that the EU could put an end to long-standing efforts to land a major trade agreement with China.
Known as the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), the trade deal was clinched in 2020 but subsequently stalled by the European Parliament after some MEPs were hit by sanctions from Beijing.
“We have to recognize that the world and China have changed in the last three years — and we need to reassess CAI in light of our wider China strategy,” von der Leyen said.
Wang Lutong, director general for European affairs at the Chinese foreign ministry, warned the EU was playing a dangerous game.
“The #EU side talks a lot about de-risking recently,” Wang wrote on his personal Twitter account. “If there is any risk, it is the risk of linking trade with ideology and national security and creating bloc confrontation.”
Von der Leyen is set to travel to Beijing with French President Macron next week, where she is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“We do hope that in her visit to China and in her dialogue with the Chinese leaders, she will be able to understand China better,” Fu, the Chinese ambassador to Brussels, said Friday.
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