China accuses EU of trade 'discrimination'

Beijing criticises Europe for not easing trade restrictions that began after 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square protest.

    China has criticised Europe's refusal to ease two longtime trade restrictions as "discrimination", following
    a high-level meeting between the two sides this week.

    The accusation is contained in a statement released on Thursday and comes as part of renewed calls by the People's Republic to end an embargo on arms sales imposed after the deadly 1989 Tiananmen crackdown on protesters.

    Beijing has also repeatedly pushed to be given full "market economy status", a designation that would lift bans on certain Chinese exports and investments.

    "We believe that the two issues are actually an embodiment of the discrimination against China by the European side," Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry councillor handling European affairs, told reporters.

    "The two issues reflect a lack of trust by the European side," she said.

    "If the European side can take a small step forward in solving these two issues, then we can make a major step forward in enhancing mutual trust."

    China and Europe have have locked horns over a series of trade issues in recent years, even as Europe has sought Chinese support in overcoming its debt crisis.

    Some of these issues were raised during the third annual EU-China Strategic Dialogue held in Beijing this week, although both sides emphasised at the end of the talks that they were held in good spirit and helped build ties.

    China is due to be granted market economy status in 2016 regardless, having agreed on a 15-year delay when it joined the World Trade Organisation.

    Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, called on European nations last year to show their "friendship" by granting the status sooner.

    But some European leaders say that China does not yet qualify, since most of its biggest companies are state-owned and their leaders are selected by the government.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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