The European Union's ambassador to China says the group wants a more level playing field in its trade and economic relations with Beijing.

Hans Dietmar Schweisgut told reporters Monday that European companies had been willing in past decades to put up with restrictions on business in China, but the EU now wants a relationship that is much more based on "fair exchange."

He said questions about the relationship have become more urgent, including why it is possible for Chinese institutions to buy European banks but impossible for European banks to buy Chinese ones.

Schweisgut also said that China must urgently address overcapacity in certain industries and the "market distortions" it is causing. European steelmakers accuse China of exporting steel at unfairly low prices.