BERLIN, March 11 - The European Union should takea tougher approach to protecting companies from unfair Chinesetrade practices as Beijing is not keeping its promise to furtheropen up its economy, Germany's BDI industry association said onThursday. China has become Germany's most important trading partnerand exports of "Made in Germany" goods to the country havehelped Europe's largest economy cushion the domestic impact ofthe COVID-19 pandemic. China on Thursday concluded its annual, week-long session ofthe National People's Congress in which it set a modest growthtarget for 2021, unveiled changes to Hong Kong's electoralsystem and laid out medium-term policy goals as part of itslatest five-year plan. BDI Managing Director Joachim Lang said German industry wasmissing clear signals in the five-year plan for a real change ofcourse towards market openness and free business economy. "A successful partnership will only work on the principlesof reciprocity and establishing a level playing field incompetition," Lang said, adding that Beijing had to do more tolive up to its promises of opening up its economy. While the EU has made some progress with its InvestmentAgreement towards a more balanced economic relationship withChina, the deal also showed the limits of cooperation, he said. "The EU must continue on its multi-pronged path that treatsChina as a partner, competitor and systemic rival," Lang said. German industry wants the EU to shore up its defencesagainst unfair trade practices by China by implementing apowerful anti-subsidy instrument and concluding work on aninternational procurement instrument, Lang said. The EU should work closely together on this with the UnitedStates and Japan, he added. The BDI also warned the Chinese government that its humanrights record could damage future business ties. "The human rights situation in Xinjiang and the politicalsituation in Hong Kong put a strain on political and economicrelations," Lang said. REUTERS
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