In the meeting with Li, China’s No. 2 official, Michel “confirmed the shared interest” in holding the bilateral summit by the end of 2023, according to a readout by the European side.
Still, the Belgian stressed the importance of having high-level sectoral dialogues beforehand, including on trade, foreign policy and digital areas.
“High-level dialogues have an important role to play in delivering meaningful outcomes for the summit,” the EU readout said.
Michel told Li that in particular, the high-level political dialogue was useful and necessary to foster mutual understanding and address the various challenges in the context of bilateral relations, but also more global issues.
The last two China-EU summits in 2022 and 2020, both held virtually, failed to produce a joint statement.
Before that, the bloc’s trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis will visit China from September 19 to 24 for talks with top Chinese officials.
EU ambassador to Beijing Jorge Toledo said in July that the high-level digital dialogue would also land this month.
Li said Beijing was ready to work with the European side to stay committed to their partnership, further strengthen dialogue and exchanges, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation and properly handle sensitive issues.
“Lying at the opposite ends of Eurasia, there is no geopolitical conflict between China and Europe, let alone a fundamental conflict of interests,” he is quoted as saying in the meeting.
He added that Beijing welcomed more European businesses to invest and operate in China.
In conclusions reached in June, EU leaders committed to reducing the group’s dependence on China and “de-risking” from China without decoupling with the world’s second largest economy.
They characterised Beijing as “simultaneously a partner, a competitor and a systemic rival” and expressed concerns about the situation in the Taiwan Strait.
Michel said Brussels would continue ensuring the economic relationship with Beijing was balanced, reciprocal and mutually beneficial and would continue diversifying where necessary and appropriate, according to the European release.
He said the bloc remained committed to the one-China policy while keeping economic ties with Taiwan at the same time.