“Europe must be a player, not a playing field,” he said.
Xi dismissed criticism from Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for his country’s human rights, arguing that there was no universal path to human rights, while accusing the EU of having issues own to deal with them.
“China does not accept human rights proselytes and opposes double standards,” he said, according to China’s state-run Xinhua media service.
Von der Leyen said the talks, initially marked as a key event on the road to a bilateral free trade agreement between the bloc and the Asian giant, were sincere and open, constructive and intense.
Germany has long maintained a policy of calm diplomacy with China, but has become more persistent in 2020, launching its first Indo-Pacific strategy last week and setting out its principles for increasing European action in the region to was protected from “significant changes in the balance of power”.
China halted German imports of pork on Saturday. The Chinese customs office said the decision was based on cases of African swine fever. The Chinese government has issued trade violations over Australian wine, barley, wheat and beef this year following disputes over the coronavirus, Hong Kong, the South China Sea and Xinjiang.
Secretary of State Marise Payne used a virtual speech at the United Nations on Tuesday to say that human rights must be essential to debate and decision-making as the world struggles with the coronavirus.
“Australia strongly believes that nations that uphold the principles within the country are more likely to work together in ways to promote the common good, while respecting fundamental human rights and freedoms,” she said.
The state-run Xinhua media service reported that Xi strongly opposed any country interfering in China’s internal affairs.
“The core issues of Hong Kong and Xinjiang are to protect China’s national sovereignty, security and unity, and to protect the rights of people of all ethnicities to live and work in peace,” he said.
Hours after the meeting, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Stillwell pushed for greater Indo-Pacific cooperation to counter China’s growing influence in the region.
“We’ve been joining an Australia-led choir for a while now,” he said.
The U.S. announced new trade measures on China on Tuesday, blocking products it claims were made from forced labor in Xinjiang where the Uighur Muslim minority has been sent to “re-education camps.”
The measure will ban cotton, electronics and hair products from special manufacturers in Xinjiang. China is the world’s largest producer of cotton and more than 80 percent of it comes from the semi-autonomous region.
This is not a professional center, it is a concentration camp, a place where religious and ethnic minorities are subjected to abuse and forced to work in hateful conditions without recourse and without freedom, said US Deputy Interim Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli.
Eryk Bagshaw is China’s correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Due to travel restrictions, he is currently based in Canberra.
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