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The respect for human rights must be at the centre of EU-China relations


16 Sep 2021


Global Europe

Today, the S&Ds backed a European Parliament resolution on the EU-China strategy but insisted that the China must first make progress to protect human rights. For the S&Ds the consideration and ratification process for the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) cannot start until the Chinese sanctions against MEPs and EU institutions have been lifted.

The S&D Group has for a long time been leading calls for new legislation on due diligence - with binding rules on responsible business conduct - and we welcome yesterday's announcement by Ursula Von der Leyen that the Commission will propose a ban on products that have been made with forced labour, like in China’s Xinjiang internment camps. We urge the Chinese government to immediately ratify international conventions against forced labour.

The S&Ds succeeded to include in the report the condemnation of the Chinese authorities for excluding pro-democratic candidates from participating in the Macau elections three days ago.

Sven Mikser, S&D MEP and negotiator of the China report, said: 

“China is no doubt a rising global power, and the more it rises, the more our relationship with China moves into the realm of strategic rivalry. Without doubt, we need much greater unity amongst EU member states, but also greater EU strategic autonomy in policy areas like security and trade, and industrial to technological development.

“We must cooperate on global challenges like climate change and health crises. But we must never forget raising our concerns over systemic human rights violations.  We also cannot accept any attempts by China to intimidate us by imposing sanctions on members of this Parliament. As long as they are not lifted, the CAI must remain on hold.”

Pedro Marques, S&D vice-president responsible for foreign affairs, added:

“China is, or could be, a commercial and negotiating partner and, at the same time, an economic rival and systemic competitor. Yet, firstly, the European Union’s relation with China must be centred on the respect of human rights. When confronted with systemic violations of human rights, we must not only clearly condemn them, but also react.

“By excluding all pro-democratic and independent candidates from the elections in Macau, the Chinese authorities openly violated the agreement with Portugal on Macau’s hand over. This is unacceptable. The transfer of sovereignty was based on the guarantee that democracy would be respected. Yes, we want to cooperate and negotiate with China, but we cannot do so without strict conditions.”




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