Mutual respect without interference, one of De Croo's messages to Chinese leaders

Mutual respect, without interference, is one of the criteria that must govern Sino-Belgian relations, according to prime minister Alexander De Croo, who met several Chinese leaders on Friday as part of his mission to China alongside Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib.

De Croo and Lahbib met the president of the Chinese National Assembly, Zhao Leji, and premier Li Qiang before a meeting scheduled for the afternoon with president Xi Jinping. De Croo called for more balanced economic relations between Belgium and China. He also commented on human rights and "China's role in upholding human rights throughout the world".

International topics were also discussed, including tensions in the Middle East, the war in Ukraine and the fight against global warming.

"I hope that we will have the opportunity to discuss a number of issues between our two countries and our positions on issues such as human rights and 100 per cent respect for each other's political systems, without interference," De Croo said in the opening remarks of the meeting. The "interference" he referred to relates to alleged corruption of a former far-right Flemish parliament member via Chinese spies.

Belgium took over the rotating presidency of the European Council at the beginning of January, and China has been the country's first foreign visit.


Alexander De Croo and Li Qiang during the Belgian mission to China © BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE

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