The European Union must toughen its stance when negotiating with China on investment access, according to the newly elected chair of the European Parliament's delegation to China.

Centre-right Italian MEP Crescenzio Rivellini signaled his intention on Tuesday (29 September) to use ongoing negotiations for an upgrade in EU-China relations to step up pressure in this area.

"We will try to use the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement to improve investment access in China for EU companies," he told EUobserver following his election to the post.

Ties between China and the EU are currently set out under a 1985 Trade and Co-operation Agreement but discussions have been ongoing since 2007 to broaden the formal relationship.

While China complains about EU anti-dumping measures that are periodically imposed upon the country's exports, European companies say they are not granted fair access to Chinese markets.

Foreign companies looking to invest in China are frequently forced into joint-venture obligations with local firms, or can run into other restrictions in sectors considered strategic by the Chinese government

However Mr. Rivellini also suggested that further duties might be needed at the European end to restrict the level of shoe and textile imports coming into the bloc from China.

"In the profound crisis that we are going through right now, we should be able to introduce policies that protect European industries," he said.

End the arms embargoOn Thursday (1 October), many of the 1.3 billion inhabitants in Asia's largest nation will turn out to celebrate 60 years since the country's civil war ended and Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China.

The government will use the occasion to parade all its latest weaponry through the streets of Beijing, with foreign military strategists keen to assess China's progress in this field over the last ten years.

Following the events of Tiananmen Square in 1989 however, under which the army opened fire on students and other protesters, the EU has held an embargo on selling arms to the China.

Mr. Rivellini says he is in favour of an end to the embargo, which sees European defence manufacturers denied access to the lucrative Chinese market.

"I think we should remember that things have changed somewhat in the last few years. The climate in the relations between China and the rest of the world has changed," he said.

Mr. Rivellini also feels the EU needs to compete harder for influence in Africa and other developing regions, frequently an important source of raw materials.

"The old continent of Europe cannot just stand by and simply look on at an expansionistic policy by China," he said.

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