Significant progress made in 'pragmatic' China-EU trade talks
Updated 02:52, 29-Jul-2020
Toni Waterman in Brussels

China and the European Union plan to ramp up negotiations on an investment deal so that it can be signed by the end of the year, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said in a statement. 

The announcement came after representatives from China and the EU met via video link to discuss the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, along with several other issues. China called the talks "candid" and "pragmatic."

The EU and China held talks, which centered on an investment deal./VCG

The EU and China held talks, which centered on an investment deal./VCG

In a statement, the EU acknowledged the "significant progress" made on issues related to the so-called level playing field, which have been a major stumbling block in the negotiations, but highlighted that "significant work still remains" on other key issues such as market access, especially in the health, biotechnology and computer sectors. 

Later, the EU announced a package of measures in response to Hong Kong's national security law. They include: restrictions on exports of equipment to China that could be used for "internal repression, the interception of internal communications or cybersurveillance"; encouraging academic exchanges with Hong Kong universities; and calling on member countries to review their extradition arrangements with Hong Kong. The UK has already suspended its extradition agreement.

China says the law is designed to deliver stability and prosperity to Hong Kong, closing loopholes in local legislation. It says that, as the city is a part of China, other nations have no business involving themselves in the country's internal affairs.

Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi today held a telephone conversation with UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, in which he noted that the measures would also safeguard "the legitimate rights and interests of all foreign companies and personnel in Hong Kong."

Representatives from the two powers also discussed the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now claimed more than 650,000 lives globally. China said it will work with the EU on virus prevention and vaccine development, according to a statement on the Ministry of Commerce website.