EU chief Charles Michel heads to China amid Covid protests crackdown


European Council President Charles Michel is in Beijing to discuss global challenges with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is facing historic protests in major cities against Covid restrictions.

Michel, who chairs summits of EU leaders, arrived in the Chinese capital on Wednesday and with meet with Xi, Premier Li Keqiang and chair of the standing committee of the National People's Congress, Wu Bangguo, on Thursday.

"Against the backdrop of a tense geopolitical and economic environment, the visit is a timely opportunity for both EU and China to engage," the European Council said in a statement.

Economic reliance

The visit comes after European leaders jointly expressed concern at a meeting last month about economic reliance on China.

An EU official said Michel would seek to address geopolitical challenges, notably Russia's war against Ukraine and Beijing's more assertive stance towards the self-governed island of Taiwan, which it considers to be part of China.

"For us, it's of critical interest that China and Russia are not siding together, that we don't see China providing weapons to Russia, that China is not circumventing sanctions of the European Union.”

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