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Tuesday, July 5, 2016, 09:56

European lawmakers to discuss China strategy

By Xinhua

STRASBOURG - European parliamentarians are set to have their first debate on the European Union (EU)'s new strategy toward China in this week's plenary section, a spokesperson said on Monday.

Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign affairs chief, is scheduled to attend the plenary in Strasbourg on Wednesday afternoon for a series of subjects, particularly a debate on the EU new strategy for China, said European Parliament (EP) spokesman Jaume Duch in a news briefing.

The scheduled debate comes two weeks after Mogherini, together with the European Commission, adopted a joint document entitled "Elements for a new EU strategy on China" on June 22, which marked the bloc's seventh strategy document on China since the EU and China forged diplomatic ties.

The EU urged in the document to speed up talks on a comprehensive Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), signalling the possibility of a free trade agreement (FTA) with China.

"A Comprehensive Agreement on Investment is the EU's immediate priority towards the objective of deepening and rebalancing our relationship with China," said the document, adding both sides may envisage broader ambitions such as a FTA after the conclusion of BIT.

It as well suggested that a possible future FTA with China should be "deep and comprehensive" and aspire to a high level of ambition based on the benchmarks set by the EU's negotiations with partners such as Canada, Japan and the United States.

Beijing and Brussels officially announced to launch the BIT talks in 2013 and have since held 11 rounds of talks.

Their latest meeting took place in China's coastal city Qingdao and lasted four days from June 28, following the tenth talks in Brussels in April, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.

The BIT talks seek to reach a high-level treaty covering both investment protection and market access between China and the EU as a whole since China already signed bilateral investment agreements with 27 out of 28 EU member states except Ireland.

Apart from economic priorities, the EU's new strategy also highlighted opportunities for closer ties between the two sides in global issues such as those related to Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, migration and climate change.

"The EU and China already cooperate on so much....but we can and must do more to connect the EU and China," Mogherini earlier said.

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