MEPs refuse any agreement with China whilst sanctions are in place

MEPs slam the recent Chinese sanctions against EU lawmakers and will not consider any talks on ratifying the EU-China agreement (CAI) while they remain.

In a resolution adopted on Thursday, Parliament condemns in the strongest possible terms the baseless and arbitrary sanctions recently imposed by the Chinese authorities on several European individuals and entities, including five MEPs. Members state that the move by Beijing is an attack on fundamental freedoms and urge the Chinese authorities to lift these wholly unjustified restrictive measures.

The text was approved by 599 votes in favour, 30 against with 58 abstentions.

Talks on ratifying the EU-China agreement not possible for now

The resolution emphasises that any consideration by the European Parliament of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), agreed in principle between the EU and China in December 2020, as well as any discussion on its mandatory ratification by MEPs, have “justifiably been frozen” because of the Chinese sanctions.

MEPs demand that China lift the sanctions before they consider the agreement, “without prejudice to the final outcome of the CAI ratification process”.  They also remind the European Commission that MEPs will take the human rights situation in China, including in Hong Kong, into account when deciding whether to endorse the agreement or not.

Today’s text considers, however, that other trade and investment agreements with regional partners, including Taiwan, should not be held hostage by the suspension of the CAI ratification.

EU sanctions against Beijing and toolbox of measures to re-balance relations

Despite Beijing’s reaction, Parliament welcomes the listing by the EU of four Chinese individuals and one entity under its EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime, because of their role in severe human rights violations against the Uyghur and people from other Muslim ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang region.

MEPs also call for re-balancing EU-China relations. They support a toolbox of autonomous measures such as legislation against distortive effects of foreign subsidies on the internal market, an import ban on forced labour goods as well as an enhanced and strengthened EU Foreign Investment Screening Regulation. The EU also needs to adequately address China’s cybersecurity threats and hybrid attacks, they add.

Background

The Chinese sanctions imposed in March on several European entities and political representatives, including five Members of the European Parliament and the Subcommittee on Human Rights, were a retaliatory act in response to the EU decision to enact restrictive measures against four Chinese officials over human rights abuses against the Muslim Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang region.

The MEPs in question are Reinhard Bütikofer (The Greens/EFA, Germany), Michael Gahler (EPP, Germany), Raphaël Glucksmann (S&D, France), Ilhan Kyuchyuk (Renew Europe, Bulgaria) and Miriam Lexmann (EPP, Slovakia).

Read more here and here.

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