Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged the European Union on Tuesday to improve its relations with the Asian powerhouse amid major European criticism over Beijing’s human rights record.
Speaking at an online round-table discussion hosted by the Munich Security Conference, Wang said: “I still have confidence in our relationship. I believe, we will be able to overcome the temporary difficulties through dialogue and communication.”
China’s top diplomat added: “We hope to have more communication with the European side to work out these differences.”
Wang stressed the EU was a “strategic partner” and not a rival.
In March, the EU imposed its first major sanctions against Chinese officials since 1989 over human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang region.
Wang warned against Western efforts “to politicize the situation” in that region.
“The Xinjiang issue is not about democracy, human rights or religion. Not at all. Since day one, it is a counter-terrorism issue,” he said.
China strongly denies allegations that it has cracked down on the Uighurs in Xinjiang, among other things by placing them in so-called “re-education centers” that have been likened to prison camps.
The EU has also repeatedly lambasted Beijing for its security clampdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.