BRUSSELS (Reuters) – China will never change its position on Taiwan and will also not shift its view that the European Union must lift its sanctions if a new Sino-EU investment deal is to be ratified, China’s ambassador to the EU said on Tuesday.

Despite plans for an EU-China summit by the end of this year, Zhang Ming’s comments offered little hope for a diplomatic breakthrough after EU countries such as Lithuania increased contacts with Taiwan this year.

“If anything changes, it is that the Chinese people’s resolve to realise complete reunification of our country grows even stronger,” Zhang said of Taiwan.

“Some people in Europe seem to underestimate the Chinese people’s aspiration for a reunification of our country,” he told an online think-tank event in Brussels.

Zhang Ming said any attempt by Europeans to develop official relations with Taiwan was unacceptable, after Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu took a rare trip to Europe in late October, angering Beijing.

China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its “sacred territory” and has not ruled out the use force to ensure eventual unification. Taiwan does not have formal diplomatic relations with any European countries apart from Vatican City. But it is keen to deepen ties with EU democracies.

In March, the EU imposed sanctions on Chinese officials over human rights abuses in Xinjiang and China responded with its own sanctions on Europeans. Neither side is ready to lift them.

Zhang noted that it took China and the EU seven years and 35 rounds of negotiations to agree politically on the investment pact in December last year.

“I regret to see that because of obstacles caused by the European side, its ratification has hit the rocks,” he said, referring to the sanctions.

Accused of mass detentions of Muslim Uyghurs in northwestern China, those targeted by the EU included Chen Mingguo, the director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau. The EU said Chen was responsible for “serious human rights violations”.

China denies any wrongdoing and called on the West not to interfere in its internal affairs, particularly on the Uyghurs, an ethnic group seen as more closely linked to Central Asians than to China’s Han majority.

(Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Nick Macfie)