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China retaliated against Europe by imposing sanctions on EU

China made a huge strategic mistake when it retaliated against Europe – stated former top White House trade negotiator Clete Willems. Its government imposed sanctions on ten European Union politicians and four other entities in March. On Monday, Willems announced that Beijing’s actions stopped a major investment agreement between the European Union and China. As a result, the deal is off the table now.

However, the EU imposed sanctions on China at first, explaining that it made this decision because of arbitrary detentions the members of an ethnic minority faced in the country. China retaliated immediately with its own sanctions.

A Muslim group known as the Uyghurs lives in Xinjiang in northwestern China. The United Nations and others have identified them as a repressed ethnic group. Also, in March, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada declared that China engages in forced labor, forced sterilizations, and mass detention in internment camps, as well as other abuses against Uyghurs. Meanwhile, China has dismissed those claims as disinformation and lies.

Despite China’s claims, the European Parliament paused the ratification of a new investment pact with China last month, announcing that it wouldn’t continue negotiations until Beijing lifts sanctions on the EU.

Willems, a former deputy director of the National Economic Council, noted that it does show that China is overreaching and overreacting. It is also not addressing legitimate issues like forced labor.

What advantages would the Agreement bring to China and the EU? 

The EU and China had been working on a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment for seven years. Negotiators finally agreed on it in December. It would have put EU firms on an equal footing in China while simultaneously cementing Beijing’s status as a trusted trading partner. Besides, it would have given participants’ businesses greater access to the other’s markets.

However, the EU parliament demands that the country lift the sanctions before dealing with the investment accord. It also added that the EU and China might not continue business as usual.

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