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EU parliament votes to freeze signing of Chinese investment pact until Beijing lifts sanctions on European politicians

The European Parliament has voted 599-30 to suspend the ratification of a major investment deal with China until Beijing removes sanctions placed on EU politicians who raised concerns about human rights violations against Uighurs.

Thursday’s vote has stalled the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, which was agreed in 2020 after seven years of bilateral negotiations in which Brussels aimed to make Beijing a valued trading partner of the bloc.

The resolution, which is technically not legally binding on the body, calls on the Chinese government to “lift the sanctions” before the parliament will continue “dealing with the investment accord,” while warning that if Beijing fails to remove the measures, “EU-China relations may not continue business as usual.”

The sanctions on 10 EU politicians were announced by Beijing in March in retaliation for Western measures against Chinese officials allegedly involved in human rights violations against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Five of the EU figures subject to sanctions are on the parliament’s human rights sub-committee, with one of those targeted, Reinhard Butikofer, describing Beijing’s actions as a “miscalculated” move that the Chinese government should “rethink.”

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Despite claims from the EU and Western nations that China’s sanctions are not justified under international law, Beijing has, so far, stood by the measures, and has repeatedly denied any allegations of abuses against its Uighur population.

With the United Nations and EU criticizing China over alleged human rights violations, Beijing has invited representatives from each to visit Xinjiang to see the situation for themselves. However, no such visit has taken place yet, as China and Western representatives have disagreed over potential restrictions on the purview of their trip.

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