PARIS — China’s Premier Li Qiang on Wednesday warned against the European Union’s plan to “de-risk” supply chains, piling on diplomatic pressure ahead of an EU leaders’ summit to discuss relations with Beijing.
“Recently we did hear some unharmonious voices, such as some people in Europe who floated the question whether economic development should reduce dependency and de-risk,” Li said during a dinner with French and Chinese businessmen and France’s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire in Paris.
“We think in today’s economic globalization, dependency is a must, and is mutual. You depend on me, and I depend on you,” he said.
De-risking has been the key concept of the European Commission’s new approach towards China as outlined by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
“The concept of de-risking, on the face of it, seems fine. But de-risking must not be [applied] in a generalized manner. This concept shall contain clear definition and boundaries,” said Li. “We think both our sides should avoid expand this concept.”
His comments come one day after Brussels rolled out its new European Economic Security Strategy which might prevent European companies from making sensitive technologies in countries like China.
Citing a European Commission report on strategic dependencies, Li argued that the bloc was not particularly dependent on China.
“Our dependency on EU’s high-end technology is even deeper,” he said, mentioning Thales air control systems and Alstom train signalling technologies. He also paid tribute to some French companies who invested in China: L’Oréal, Airbus and luxury brand owner LVMH.
This week, Li is set to attend a signature ceremony in Paris of a non-binding agreement between Airbus and China aviation industry partners, said an industry insider with direct knowledge of the deal, who was granted anonymity to speak about the ceremony. The pact will re-affirm the commitments outlined in a previous agreement signed during the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to China in April.
The European Council summit next week will cover EU-China relations and EU leaders are expected to focus on how to implement the nascent concept of economic security, among other issues.