China and European Union leaders will discuss cooperation on energy and climate issues at their upcoming summit, but Chinese officials held out little hope of a breakthrough on their long-sought end to the EU's weapons sales ban.
BEIJING China and European Union leaders will discuss cooperation on energy and climate issues at their upcoming summit, but Chinese officials held out little hope of a breakthrough on their long-sought end to the EU's weapons sales ban.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will arrive in Finland on Saturday for three days of talks with European leaders before visiting Britain, Germany and Tajikistan, foreign ministry officials told a news briefing.
Li Ruiyu, a Chinese diplomat in charge of European affairs, said on Wednesday that Wen would raise Beijing's long-time goal of lifting an EU ban on weapons sales to China imposed after Beijing's 1989 armed crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
But Li did not offer hope of a significant breakthrough in Helsinki. "The lifting of the arms sales embargo is not a new issue," he said, calling the ban "discriminatory".
China had hoped the ban would be lifted last year, but opposition from some EU member states and from Washington has stymied any move.
The two sides will discuss cooperation in energy and the environment, Li said, without offering any details.
"The willingness of China and the EU to strengthen cooperation in energy and climate change will be reflected in the declaration," Li said of a statement to be signed at the meeting.
The EU ambassador to China, Serge Abou, told reporters last week that the European Investment Bank is set to sign an agreement at the Helsinki meeting to provide China up to 500 million euros ($640 million) in loans for projects to cut energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
China's growing hunger for energy has spooked international markets and raised alarm about its output of greenhouse gases, which many scientists say are raising global temperatures, leading to rising sea levels and more extreme weather.
In the first seven months of 2006, China's crude oil imports grew to 84 million tonnes, a rise of 12.9 percent over the same time last year.
Wen would continue lobbying for formal recognition as a "market economy" to ease threats from anti-dumping complaints, Li said.
The EU is China's biggest single trade partner, and trade reached $143.5 billion in the first seven months of 2006, a 21.1 percent increase over the same period last year.
The EU said last year's trade deficit with China reached 106 billion euros. The EU's estimates of trade flows differ from China's.
European manufacturers have pressed complaints that China's cut-price exports are endangering industries, such as shoe and garment making. But easing the trade imbalance would take time, Li said.
"Trade problems, and the deficit, need to be steadily resolved through consultation on an equal footing in the course of further developing bilateral trade," he said.