After imposing sanctions on China just months ago, the European Union (EU) has now decided to put the EU-China trade deal ‘on ice’ with experts calling the situation ‘critical’.
The cold war between the EU and China began after the body in March imposed sanctions on officials in China over the human rights abuses taking place against the Muslim Uighur minority group, first since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. In retaliation, China introduced sanctions against ten European Union officials and four European organizations accusing them of spreading ‘lies and false information’ about the Xinjiang region.
This was not received well by the EU which had also expressed concern over the alleged forced labour camps and a crackdown in Hong Kong against anti-government protestors.
Sources have now reported that Members of Parliament (MEPs) are planning to introduce a motion to halt the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) deal until China lifts its sanctions against EU officials.
“The European Parliament links the lifting of anti-sanctions with the approval of the agreement, which is difficult for China to accept,” said Cui Hongjian, a Europe expert at the China Institute of International Studies.
The Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), which was agreed to in principle last year was due for final ratification on March 22, 2021. However, things turned sour with the EU announcing travel bans and asset freezes for four Chinese officials over their role in the alleged abuse of the Uyghur minority. China in turn sabotaged its prospects by moving against EU lawmakers, researchers and institutions sharply denting its hopes of landing the highly sought-after investment agreement.
More than 30 members had taken the floor to condemn the sanctions by Beijing last month alleging that the EU was prioritising commercial ties with the world’s second-largest economy at the expense of human rights over the CAI deal.
“If we want to show once and for all that the EU is not just a supermarket rather has principles.. we have come up with some tangible action, and that means we need to reject the investment agreement,” Emmanuel Maurel, a left-wing French MEP stated.
“If pro-democracy rights in Hong Kong or Taiwan cannot be discussed in the parliament then nothing can be discussed in this parliament,” said socialist MEP Maria Arena from Belgium.
(With Agency Inputs)