China counter-sanctions European Parliament threatens to boycott the EU-China Investment Agreement

The European Parliament held an anti-China sanctions meeting on April 28 in response to counter-sanctions imposed by the Chinese government against European Union entities, European Parliament institutions and EU parliamentarians. Some parliamentarians spoke out against China’s sanctions and vowed to block the adoption of the EU-China Investment Agreement.

China’s counter-sanctions have provoked a strong opposition in Europe, and the European Parliament cancelled the meeting scheduled for March 23rd to consider the EU-China Investment Agreement. Most of the major political parties in the Parliament have also officially announced that they will not support the EU-China Investment Agreement if the Chinese sanctions remain in place.

The European Parliament held an anti-China sanctions meeting on the 28th of March, where more than thirty parliamentarians spoke out against China’s counter-sanctions as a killing of European democracy. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, who was present at the meeting, expressed his solidarity with the sanctioned entities and persons. He said, “Perhaps it is difficult for the Chinese to understand what it means for members of parliament to express their views freely. They can strongly criticize anything, even me.”

For his part, Reinhard Butikofer, head of the European Parliament’s delegation on China relations, which is also on the Chinese sanctions list, stressed that “the sanctions imposed by China in this parliamentary session are not an accidental event; they are an attack on the heart of European democracy and mark a new peak in China’s aggressive seizure of power.” He said Xi’s regime is increasingly behaving like a rogue and disregarding international law. Communist emperor Xi Jinping and his minions have not only confronted Europe but also made enemies of India, the United States, Australia, the Philippines, Japan, Canada, Britain, Taiwan and plunged African countries into debt. Beijing is doing this because China believes it is now strong enough.

He argued that counter-threats are not a far-fetched utopia and that the inspiration of people like Sakharov Prize winner Ilham Tohti has set an example for the EU in this anti-democratic, anti-human rights struggle against China.

European parliamentarians also criticized EU Executive Committee officials for prioritizing business relations with China at the expense of human rights, allowing China to threaten politics with the economy. In particular, the parliamentarians stressed the threat of Chinese sanctions to prevent the adoption of the EU-China Investment Agreement.

French MP Raphaël Glucksmann is also the target of Chinese sanctions. He spoke forcefully, saying, “We will never give in and back down, we will never give in to this regime that has put millions of people in concentration camps and wants us to shut up.” He criticized the Chinese Communist Party, a dictatorship, for trying to dictate the agenda of the European Parliament by means of sanctions. The Human Rights Committee was attacked because it does not want to answer questions of humanity, but it intends to continue discussions with the International Trade Committee because it is very fond of talking about money.

He stressed that under sanctions, the European Parliament should refuse to vote on the debate on the EU-China investment agreement, and that it is necessary to have the dignity of the European Parliament, after all the dignity of the European people represented by the MPs is at stake.

For her part, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson responded to the MEPs at the conclusion by saying that our economic interests will not prevent the European Union from continuing to defend human rights. If we want to make progress in all areas of interest, including human rights, we must remain open to dialogue and engagement with China.

Both Borrelli and Johnson insisted, however, that the EU must continue to engage with China to make progress on issues of common concern, while also remaining firm on EU values. They are pleased to see U.S. allies using the exact same approach to dealing with China.