In this regard, the EU will continue to conduct its policy towards China in line with a more realistic, assertive and multi-faceted approach. This approach will ensure that relations with this strategic partner are set on a fair, balanced and mutually beneficial course. China is, simultaneously, in different policy areas, a cooperation partner with whom the EU has closely aligned objectives, a negotiating partner with whom the EU needs to find a balance of interests, an economic competitor in the pursuit of technological leadership, and a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance.  This requires a flexible and pragmatic whole-of-EU approach enabling, not only a principled defence of interests and values, but also the achievement of concrete results, particularly in areas such as trade and investment, climate change, biodiversity, response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and international affairs.

Basic Framework for Relations

The EU's China policy is defined by the 'Elements for a new EU Strategy on China' and 'Council Conclusions EU Strategy on China' which were reviewed in 2019 in the 'EU-China Strategic Outlook'. Together these documents reflect the fundamental premises of EU's engagement based on a realistic, assertive and multi-faceted approach in order to promote democracy, rule of law, human rights, and respect for the UN Charter and international law, with the pursuit for reciprocal benefits in political and economic relations.

Political Relations & Human Rights

The EU and China hold regular bilateral discussions and an annual Strategic Dialogue to discuss bilateral relations with a focus on foreign and security policy, at the level of the High Representative/Vice President on the EU side, and the State Councillor for Foreign Affairs on the Chinese side. On a day-to-day basis, the EU Delegation in Beijing works closely together with Member States Embassies to defend EU interests and values and engage with Chinese counterparts to implement concrete results.

Economic Relations, Trade and Investment

Inter-connectedness between the EU and China has experienced a remarkable pace of growth. In view of closer cooperation to face common challenges, the EU and China work together on a large number of economic and financial matters.

The European Union and China are two of the biggest trading partners in the world. The EU is committed to open trading relations with China and wants to ensure that China trades fairly, respects intellectual property rights, and meets its obligations as a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Beyond bilateral trade and investment relations, the EU engages China on trade and investment matters also at the multilateral level, notably at the WTO.

The EU is also active in helping European small and medium enterprises (SMEs) interested in the Chinese market, notably providing assistance through the EU SME Centre and the China IPR SME Helpdesk.

Environment, Climate, Energy, Maritime and Fisheries and Transport

The Environment, Climate, Energy, Maritime and Fisheries and Transport (ECEMFT) section of the EU Delegation to China facilitates and reinforces policy exchanges and political dialogues between the European Union and the government of the People’s Republic of China, in view of addressing global climate and environment challenges and sustainable pathways of economic development.

Beyond policies directly covered by the European Green Deal, the ECEMFT section is also the contact point for all files related to transport (e.g. aviation, maritime transport, and connectivity), energy, maritime affairs and fisheries.

Research & Innovation

In the context of EU-China relations, Research and Innovation is an essential area of cooperation. A policy priority both in the EU and in China, Research and Innovation is driven by ambitions of ensuring a sustainable and inclusive future of their peoples and of the planet.

The EU Delegation to China plays an important role in strengthening EU-China cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). The Delegation promotes and facilitates dialogue among EU Member States’ diplomatic missions in China on a common approach towards China in research and innovation-related issues. The Delegation also works to raise awareness on EU policies and programmes and supports coordination and development of joint activities.

The EU Delegation to China also actively assists European researchers, either based in Europe or China, that wish to develop professional connections with China.

Digital Policies

For both the EU and China, the fields of digital economy and society are strategic priorities. On the EU side, in particular, the Digital Compass communication, published by the European Commission in 2021, translates the EU’s digital ambitions for the next decade into clear, concrete targets. This document sets out a European way for the digital decade. Because digital transformation poses global challenges, the EU works at the same time to promote its positive and human-centred digital agenda internationally.

International Development Cooperation

The EU Delegation engages Chinese counterparts to enhance mutual understanding between the EU and China on international development policies, promote the exchange of information on best practices and international sustainability standards. 

Priority areas for future EU-China cooperation actions for the period 2021-2027 include promoting global public goods and addressing global challenges, underpinning EU values, and exploring innovative ways of cooperation between the EU and China in developing regions and countries.