European Union Backtracks on Massive Trade Deal with Communist China

French President Emmanuel Macron (C) speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) following their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on March 26, 2019. - The leaders of China, France, Germany and the EU were set to meet in Paris on March 26 …
LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images

The European Union has apparently suspended efforts to ratify a massive trade deal with Communist China following intense backlash on issues such as human rights and a series of tit-for-tat sanctions.

In December, the European Commission signed in principle the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), which would have paved the way for some €120 billion in trade. The deal was preliminary, however, as it would have required ratification from the European Parliament and the governments of EU member states.

EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told the AFP news agency on Tuesday that the Commission has abandoned attempts to ratify the deal.

“It’s clear in the current situation with the EU sanctions in place against China and Chinese counter-sanctions in place, including against members of European Parliament (that) the environment is not conducive for ratification of the agreement,” Dombrovskis said.

“We now in a sense have suspended… political outreach activities from the European Commission side,” Dombrovskis added.

The Eurocrat did, however, leave the door open to a possible renewal of the trade efforts, saying that ratification of the deal “will depend really on how broader EU-China relations will evolve”.

German MEP and a vice-chairman of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Hannah Neumann told the South China Morning Post that the deal will still likely be put before the parliament in May, but said that it is likely to be put “in the freezer…. as long as China upholds its sanctions against elected members of parliament as well as the human rights committee.”

In March, a collective effort between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union saw sanctions levied against CCP officials and the Public Security Bureau of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, for their role in the alleged genocide being carried out against the Muslim Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region.

The communist regime in Beijing, in turn, retaliated with sanctions against parliamentarians and lawyers in the UK and the EU. Undeterred by the sanctions, the United Kingdom’s Parliament voted in April to declare that a genocide is being committed in Xinjiang.

One of the key British campaigners in the effort to declare a genocide in Xinjiang, Benedict Rogers of Hong Kong Watch, told Breitbart London: “This decision by the EU [to suspend deal progress] is extremely welcome and exactly right, though it is important to note that it is only a suspension.”

“Unless the Chinese Communist Party regime completely, totally and irreversibly changes its behaviour, including stopping genocide and crimes against humanity against the Uyghurs, which has now been recognised by the Canadian, Dutch and UK Parliaments and by the US Administration, the repression in Hong Kong, Tibet and elsewhere, and its threatening behaviour towards Taiwan, the EU should not reinstate the agreement and indeed should move towards its termination.

“But the announcement of the suspension is the right move at this moment and one which is very welcome.”

In announcing the deal, the European Commission had initially described the investment pact as the “most ambitious agreement that China has ever concluded with a third country.”

The deal made no mention of human rights atrocities being committed by the communist regime and China merely pledged to “work towards” abolishing forced labour, which is alleged to be widespread, in the Xinjiang region in particular.

The deal was championed by German chancellor Angela Merkel, who pushed for it to be signed before Germany vacated its position as the head of the EU presidency in December.

Under the leadership of Merkel — who has called for cooperation with China on issues such as climate change — Germany has seen its economic reliance on the communist state increase to such an extent that it became the country’s top trading partner in 2018.

The European Union as a whole has also seen its trade with Beijing increase during the Chinese coronavirus crisis, with China becoming the bloc’s top trading partner in 2020, overtaking the United States for the first time.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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