China again urges France to work to unfreeze China-EU investment agreement

The Chinese government has asked France to act to lift the freeze on the China-EU investment agreement so that it can be ratified by the European Parliament as soon as possible. The French government has also informed that Paris refuses to make such an effort until China lifts sanctions against EU institutions and parliamentarians, among others. China today called on the European Union to abandon its confrontational attitude. The EU has no information that the European Parliament will vote again to approve the EU-China investment agreement as soon as China lifts its sanctions against Europe.

The Chinese and French governments said Thursday that China has asked France to work for the ratification of the China-Europe investment agreement, while Paris has refused to do so until China lifts sanctions against European lawmakers, AFP reported from Paris today.

The China-EU investment agreement is a balanced, high-level and win-win agreement, and we hope France will actively promote the agreement and work for its signing and entry into force as soon as possible,” according to a statement from China’s Ministry of Commerce, which reported that French Foreign Trade Minister Franck Riester and Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao had held a video conference on Tuesday.

French Minister Franck Riester confirmed the meeting to AFP, adding that he had “reaffirmed the position of France and the EU on this issue. According to Franck Riester, “China’s sanctions against European parliamentarians are unacceptable and it is impossible to make progress in the process of ratifying the investment agreement with this sanction in place, as the European Commission has recently said. I have made this clear to my Chinese counterparts.”

Riester sent a written statement to AFP.Riester also stressed the concerns of France and the EU about the human rights situation in the Xinjiang region.” More than a million Muslims are being held there in political re-education centers, according to human rights groups.

The European Commission, which is in charge of trade policy for the EU’s 27 member states, reached a surprise investment deal with Beijing at the end of 2020 after years of deadlock, AFP said.

The EU imposed sanctions on China in March over the situation in Xinjiang. Beijing retaliated by sanctioning several European parliamentarians, academics and the German think tank MERICS. In this context, European Commission Vice President Valdie Dombrovskis told AFP in early May that his department’s efforts to approve the investment deal had been “suspended”.

On Friday, Beijing called on the EU to abandon its “confrontational” attitude after the European Parliament voted to freeze the ratification process for the deal.

Other issues discussed during a video meeting between Chinese and French ministers, according to French Minister Riester, “include the many obstacles that French companies face in accessing the Chinese market.”