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European, Chinese leaders fail to find common ground during summit

May 23, 2009

Editor: Nick Amies
Deutsche Welle (Germany)
May 21, 2009

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao flew home from Prague
Wednesday after failing to find common ground
with the European Union on most of the issues dividing them.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus hosted Chinese
Premier Wen Jiabao and European Commission
President Jose Manuel Barroso at the EU-China
summit in Prague, which did not succeed in
smoothing over differences between the Asian
powerhouse and the European trading bloc.

The summit was originally scheduled to take place
five months ago but was delayed by China afer
French President Sarkozy met with the exiled
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Disagreement over Tibet has persisted, with China
unwilling to commit to "freedom of speech and the
rights of ethnic minorities," one of the EU's demands.

"The most important thing is to stick to the
principles of mutual respect and non-interference
in each others' affairs," Wen politely but firmly
said at a news conference after the summit.

The EU also failed to get China to agree to put
pressure on Burma's junta to begin talks with
pro-democracy forces and free opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

China also refused to join Europe in condemning
North Korea's April 5 missile test.

The two parties could not agree on a common
approach to global warming, with the EU hoping
China would commit to significantly reducing its
carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 and China
wanting more help for developing nations to cut
their emissions and tougher standards for developed countries.

Wen was unable to persuade the EU to lift its
arms embargo against China or recognize the
country as a market economy, a step that would
bring big trade and investment benefits.

China and the EU are scheduled to revisit these
divisive issues later in the year, just before a
United Nations conference to be held in December
in Copenhagen aimed at producing a global climate
deal to succeed the Kyoto protocol.

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