Flags of the European Union (left) and China.
Nelson Ching | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The deteriorating tensions between the European Union and China could jeopardize an investment deal recently negotiated by the two parties.
The EU on Monday imposed sanctions on four Chinese officials and one entity for human rights violations in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region. The move was part of a coordinated action against Beijing by the US and its allies, including the United Kingdom and Canada.
China quickly took revenge on the EU, to publish his own blacklist of ten individuals – including European legislators – and four entities.
The Beijing response, in turn, called for warnings from several MEPs or MPs, saying they would not ratify the EU-China investment agreement reached in December.
“The lifting of sanctions against MPs is a condition for us to enter into discussions with the Chinese government on the investment agreement,” said Kathleen van Brempt, a member of parliament from the left-wing Socialist and Democrat group.
S&D is the second largest political grouping in the European Parliament, with 145 members.
Those targeted by the Chinese sanctions also weighed.
Reinhard Bütikofer, a German MP, said in a Twitter message that ratification of the EU-China agreement “does not become more likely” after Beijing imposed sanctions to “punish” freedom of speech.
Bütikofer is a legislator of the Greens / European Free Alliance group and chairman of the Chinese delegation to the European Parliament.
Meanwhile, Slovak MP Miriam Lexmann of the center-right European People’s Party group said in a tweet that China’s actions would “make it clear that he is not interested in being a partner, but rather a systematic rival who upholds fundamental values and principles undermine.”
The European Parliament will vote on the EU-China investment agreement in early 2022, S&D said. The negotiations took seven years and the agreement, if ratified, would give European investors unprecedented access to the Chinese market, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said in December.
But even before Monday’s retaliatory sanctions, some European lawmakers expressed three major concerns about the deal, which called into question its outcome.
Beijing said in a statement that his Deputy Foreign Minister, Qin Gang, summoned Nicolas Chapuis, EU ambassador to China, on Monday night to protest EU sanctions.
According to the Mandarin statement released on Tuesday, EU sanctions against China are based on “lies and disinformation” about Xinjiang, according to a OilGasJobz translation. It also warned the EU not to worsen relations between Europe and China.
Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and international organizations including the United Nations accused China of detaining more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in detention camps.
In a joint statement released on Monday, the US Secretary of State as well as the Secretary of State of Canada and the United Kingdom claimed ‘China’s extensive repression program includes severe restrictions on religious freedoms, the use of forced labor, mass detention in internment camps, forced sterilizations and the joint destruction of the Uighur heritage. ‘
China has repeatedly denied complaints of forced labor, claiming that the camps are re-education camps to eradicate extremism and teach people new job skills.
OilGasJobz’s Evelyn Cheng and Silvia Amaro contributed to this report.