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China takes lead in EU talks

May 23, 2009

China warns EU not to interfere on Tibet, shrugs
off pressure to cut greenhouse gas emissions
Aoife White, AP Business Writer
May 20, 2009

PRAGUE (AP) -- China took the lead in talks with
the European Union on Wednesday, warning Europe
not to interfere in its internal affairs and
promising to boost imports from the recession-hit bloc.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao easily shrugged off EU
pressure to commit to cutting greenhouse gas
emissions -- although he was supportive of EU
efforts to strike a global climate change accord this year.

Talks in Prague saw the European Union and China
get back to talking business five months after
the Chinese canceled an earlier summit because
French President Nicolas Sarkozy met the Dalai
Lama, the religious leader Beijing accuses of
seeking Tibetan independence from China.

EU and Chinese leaders vowed Wednesday to tackle
climate change together and boost trade -- but
tensions over Tibet were still showing as Wen
told reporters that the two sides must "stick to
the principles of mutual respect and
noninterference in each other's internal affairs."

The EU countered that human rights would remain a
key part of future talks with China. Czech
President Vaclav Klaus, whose country holds the
rotating EU presidency, said the issue was
"something that we in Europe consider extremely important."

China failed to answer EU Commission President
Jose Manuel Barroso's call for it and the U.S. to
clearly lay out how far they are willing to go to
fix firm targets to reduce carbon dioxide
emissions at United Nations climate change talks in Copenhagen later this year.

The EU says it will reduce emissions by 20
percent by 2020 and will go to 30 percent if
major world nations will make similar cuts. The
U.S., China and others have never promised anything similar.

"We now need the clear engagement of all major
economies to make the deal possible," Barroso
said, calling on China to "make a real difference
on the road to seal the deal in Copenhagen by the end of the year."

The Copenhagen talks are aiming for a worldwide
pact to replace the U.N. Kyoto Protocol after it
expires in 2012. Experts say emissions must peak
in 2015 and then fall by half by 2050 to limit global warming.

Wen was reluctant on targets, saying China wanted
"a positive outcome" from the negotiations but
that the brunt of the effort must be borne by
richer nations such as the U.S. and the EU -- and
not China which "still remains a developing country."

But he was supportive of the overall aim to tackle climate change.

"China stands ready to work with the European
Union," he said. "In spite of the international
financial crisis, the international community
must not waver in its resolve ... to address the climate."

The two sides want concrete progress on reducing
emissions and struck a deal to develop "clean
coal" technology that would help China curb the
carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power stations.

Wen tried to ease tensions over China's massive
trade surplus with the EU -- its major export
market -- by saying China would buy more EU
imports and would send a business delegation on a
multibillion shopping spree in recession-hit Europe.

While China may escape a recession this year, it
will suffer from plunging exports to the U.S. and
the 27-nation EU which bought some euro248
billion of Chinese goods last year -- dwarfing
the EU's euro78.4 billion in exports to China.

Wen also called for the EU to "lift its arms
embargo against China as early as possible."

Wen tried to assure the Europeans that they would
not be shut out by China's growing role in world
affairs. "Some say that the world affairs will be
managed solely by China and the United States.
That view is baseless and wrong," he said.

Associated Press writers Karel Janicek and Ondrej
Hejma contributed to this story.
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