China-EU summit in Germany postponed due to coronavirus

File photo. Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) shake hands as they pose for photographs ahead of a bilateral meeting at the Hotel de Marigny residence in Paris, France, 26 March 2019. [Yoan Valat/EPA/EFE]

A summit planned for September in Leipzig, Germany, between China and the European Union has been postponed because of the coronavirus, the German government said on Wednesday (3 June).

The decision was made after Chancellor Angela Merkel held separate phone calls with Chinese President Xi Jinping and European Council President Charles Michel, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

“They agreed that the meeting cannot take place at the envisaged time given the pandemic but should be rescheduled,” Seibert said. “The details should be agreed soon.”

A similar summit that was due to take place at the end of March in China was also postponed.

Since emerging in China last December, the virus has killed more than 382,000 people, according to a tally from official sources.

Merkel had hoped to used Germany’s six-month presidency of the European Union from 1 July to strengthen the bloc’s ties with China. But the fight against the coronavirus and its social and economic impact as well as environmental issues will now be the focal point of her efforts, she has said.

The EU had wanted to use the summits to push China to deliver on its promise in April last year to give European companies equal treatment and put an end to a practice of forcing foreign firms to share know-how when operating in China.

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