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Xi presses Merkel, asking EU to 'independently' weigh relations with China

Xi presses Merkel, asking EU to 'independently' weigh relations with China
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Chinese President Xi Jinping on a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday urged the European Union to take an independent stance toward Beijing following a tense back-and-forth over a new round of sanctions levied by Europe in coordination with other allies.

"At present, China-EU relations are facing new development opportunities, but also different challenges," Xi said, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency. "China's development is an opportunity for the EU. We hope the EU can make the right judgment independently and achieve strategic autonomy in the real sense." 

Xi maintained that China is seeking a positive business relationship with the EU and could find common goals in the fight against climate change and other “global governance issues.” 

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“Noting that China-EU relations are facing new opportunities as well as various challenges, Xi said that the key is to keep to the general direction and keynote of China-EU relations from a strategic perspective, respect each other and remove distractions,” the Chinese mission to the EU tweeted. 

The mission added that China is ready to work with European partners “to ensure the success of a series of important political agendas through consultation, expand practical cooperation, strengthen communication on climate change and other global governance issues, and jointly practice multilateralism.”

The call between Xi and Merkel, who leads the EU’s biggest economy, comes after a tense back-and-forth between China and Europe. 

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The EU last month sanctioned four officials in Xinjiang over China’s human rights violations in the region against  Uighur Muslims, a minority group in the country. Those penalties were mirrored in similar actions from the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

Beijing fired back by slapping its own sanctions on members of the European Parliament. 

Xinhua’s readout of the call between Xi and Merkel made no mention of the recent sanctions.