December 18, 2018 / 3:40 AM / 6 months ago

China hopes for 'orderly' Brexit, calls for more open EU economy

BEIJING (Reuters) - China hopes Britain’s exit from the European Union can happen in an orderly way and that the bloc will reduce hurdles to Chinese investment and keep its markets open, China’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: An attendant walks past EU and China flags ahead of the EU-China High-level Economic Dialogue at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

China, the world’s second-largest economy, has watched Brexit nervously, worried not only about potential market turmoil from a disorderly departure but about losing Britain’s supportive voice for free trade within the EU.

“China hopes to see Brexit proceed in an orderly fashion and stands ready to advance China-EU and China-UK relations in parallel,” the ministry said in a lengthy policy document on EU ties.

The EU and China are often at loggerheads over trade and other issues, with the EU sharing many of the same concerns as the United States about market access, trade imbalances and intellectual property rights protection.

The bloc is China’s largest trading partner while China is its biggest trading partner after the United States.

The EU has been pressing for better access to the Chinese market for its companies, while China has complained about what it sees as unfair restrictions on Chinese investments in the EU.

Despite events such as Brexit, China said the EU has remained committed to integration, pressed on with reforms and played a major role in regional and international affairs.

Beijing has promised to look at the possibility of reaching a “top notch” free trade deal with Britain post-Brexit.

The Brexit process is currently deadlocked with just over 100 days until Britain is due to leave the EU.

On trade, China’s white paper said the EU should ease high-tech export controls on China and facilitate mutual investment.

The government will significantly ease market access and endeavour to foster a “stable, fair, transparent, law-based and predictable business environment that protects the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investment and treats Chinese and foreign firms registered in China as equals”, it said.

“China hopes that the EU will keep its investment market open, reduce and eliminate investment hurdles and discriminatory barriers, and provide Chinese companies investing in Europe a fair, transparent and predictable policy environment and protect their legitimate rights and interests.”

The EU last month provisionally agreed on rules for a far-reaching system to coordinate scrutiny of foreign investments into Europe, notably from China in the wake of a surge in Chinese investments, to end what a negotiator called “European naivety”.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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