Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Parliament overwhelmingly voted on Thursday to freeze the ratification process for the new investment pact between EU and China, until Beijing lifts sanctions it imposed on EU lawmakers, Reuters reported.
The so-called EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment was finalised in December last year after years of negotiations, and was awaiting ratification in the European Parliament as the final step. The trade deal aimed to provide EU companies greater ease of access to China, and to endorse Beijing’s status as a trusted trading partner.
However, China introduced retaliatory sanctions against EU lawmakers and a number of institutions and organisations in response to EU sanctions against individuals and organisations deemed responsible for human rights abuses against the Muslim Uyghur minority in China’s Xinjiang province.
Beijing sanctions were levied against 10 EU politicians, including five members of the European Parliament and its human rights sub-committee, prompting the body to respond by refusing to ratify the investment deal until the sanctions against its members are lifted. The resolution to freeze the process received 599 votes in favour, 30 against and there were 58 abstentions.
“With its sanctions, China has miscalculated”, said German MEP Reinhard Butikofer, one of the lawmakers sanctioned by Beijing. “They should learn from their mistakes and rethink. Because of China’s sanctions, the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment has been put into the freezer”.
According to EU parliamentarians, the Chinese sanctions are not based on international law, whereas the EU sanctions against Beijing were introduced in response to abuse of human rights, and are upheld in the United Nations treaties.
China, on the other hand, denies any wrongdoings and claims Beijing’s sanctions are a legitimate response to EU actions. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said he hoped the EU “could do less emotional venting and more rational thinking, and make correct decisions in line with its own interests”.