EU sets Uyghur and Hong Kong conditions for investment agreement

The members of the European Parliament have underlined the conditions to be met before the legislature gives its consent to the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). The conditions have been listed in a draft report prepared by foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament, which calls for using the CAI as a leverage instrument to improve the protection of human rights and support for civil society in China.

The pre-ratification commitments listed in the report include a timetable for China’s ratification and implementation of key labour laws and concrete measures towards putting an end to human rights violations against the Uyghur minority in the country. It also demands a recommitment by China to uphold its international commitments to Hong Kong.

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The resolution also supports for the United Nations (UN) to carry out legal investigations into alleged genocide and crimes against humanity taking place in Xinjiang and a unilateral ban on the import of products from forced labour and child labour or any other form of modern slavery.

The European leaders have urged stronger cooperation with other democratic players such as Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. They have called for combining the strength of global liberal democracies in order to respond to China’s changing role and growing influence in multilateral organisations.

The resolution presented by the leaders strongly demands the bloc to revisit strategy to deal with China, in view of its strong economic growth and ambitious foreign policy agenda. The members condemned the Chinese ruling dispensation for its poor track record of human rights.

Calling for a more assertive strategy against China, the members of the 27-nation bloc have proposed a new EU-China policy in the draft report based on six pillars: Opening dialogue on global challenges; engagement on human rights issues through economic leverage; analysis of the threats and challenges; building partnerships with like-minded partners; fostering open strategic autonomy and defending core European interests and values.

The members also called for dialogues on human rights to be held regularly and a solid benchmarking of the progress made in bilateral talks. They also demanded opening of a channel to talk to China on possible ways to ensure better global preparedness to respond to pandemics.

The European Parliament members also sought China’s cooperation in an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Talking about the trade frictions, the European leaders demanded lifting the counter-sanctions imposed by the Chinese government on EU entities and individuals, who Beijing accused of “severely harming its sovereignty and interests and maliciously spreading lies and disinformation”. The sanctions were imposed in March against 10 individuals and four entities in response to similar action by the EU against a Chinese entity and individuals over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

The draft report will now be submitted to a vote in the European Parliament as a whole.