Exclusive: China cancelled EU leader’s video address at opening of major trade expo

BEIJING/BRUSSELS, Nov 8 (Reuters) – Chinese officials behind a major trade fair in Shanghai spoke at the opening ceremony with the president of the European Council to condemn Russia’s “illegal war” in Ukraine and call for less dependence on EU trade in China. , diplomats said.

A video previously recorded by Charles Michel was supposed to be among world leaders and heads of international organizations, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, at the opening of the China International Import Expo (CIIE) on Friday, three European diplomats told Reuters. .

The diplomats, who cannot be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, told Reuters they were surprised the statement had been removed.

“President Michel was invited to address the 5th Hongqiao Forum/CIIE in Shanghai,” Barend Leyts, Michel’s spokesman told Reuters. “As requested by the Chinese authorities, we did provide a pre-recorded message that was not shown. We have dealt with this through official channels.”

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None of the show’s organizers, China’s commerce ministry and the Shanghai city government, responded to Reuters’ requests for comment. The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China has denied this matter.

“I don’t know the situation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing on Tuesday. “I can’t comment on that.”

Other dignitaries who spoke at Xi’s event included the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, the head of the World Trade Organization and the presidents of Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Belarus, according to the official website of the event.

Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus is a trusted ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his country has hosted thousands of Russian troops before and during what Moscow calls its “special operation” in Ukraine.


The speech of the president of the European Council was strongly against “Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine” and that Europe is learning “important lessons” from it, according to the words of the address given by EU ambassadors.

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Europe became too dependent on Russia for oil, which led to trade tensions, Michel was saying.

“In Europe, we want balance in our trade relations … to avoid too much dependence,” according to diplomats who know exactly what to say. “This is also true of our trade relationship with China.”

Michel also called on China to do more to end the massacre in Ukraine.

China has consistently refused to condemn Russia’s aggression, which has destroyed cities in Ukraine and killed thousands of soldiers and civilians since it began on February 24.

“China has a role in using its power to stop Russia’s brutal war… through your so-called “unlimited” agreement with Russia,” Michel was saying, referring to the agreement that Xi and Putin announced in Beijing before the war began. “You, China, can help solve this.”

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Both Xi and Michel are expected to attend and meet at the Group of Twenty (G20) summit in Bali next Tuesday and Wednesday.

The President of the European Council is one of the highest officials of the European Union whose duties include representing the bloc at international conferences and bilateral meetings with other heads of state.

Since 2019, the EU has seen China as a partner, an economic competitor and a strategic competitor.

The EU’s foreign affairs ministry said in a paper last month that Beijing should now be considered a competitor that promotes “alternative visions of the world order”.

Reports from Martin Quin Pollard in Beijing and Jan Strupczewski in Brussels; Additional reporting by Eduardo Baptista in Beijing; Edited by Lincoln Party and Gareth Jones

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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