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The EU could throw out its landmark trade deal with China over concerns about Beijing’s human rights record

  • A primary member of the European Parliament has raised significant concerns about the EU’s landmark investment deal with China on the other side of its alleged human rights abuses and fears that it could harm relations with the new Biden administration.
  • The EU-China investment understanding large aims to liberalize trade between Beijing and Brussels and was struck in the last days of December after last-minute concessions from Chinese PM Xi Jinping.
  • But there is mounting concern in the European Parliament, which still needs to approve the deal, about the understanding large given China’s human rights record on issues including alleged forced labor camps and a crackdown in Hong Kong which inaugurated last year.
  • “To lay such a Christmas present under Xi Jinping’s Christmas tree after the year that we’ve had with China, that is truly a stretch,” said Reinhard Bütikofer, chair of the European Parliament’s China delegation, in an interview with Insider this week.
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A leading member of the European Parliament has raised significant concerns far the EU’s landmark investment deal with China over its alleged human rights abuses and fears that it could mischief relations with the new Biden administration.

The EU-China investment deal aims to liberalize trade between Beijing and Brussels and was hit in the last days of December after last-minute concessions from Chinese premier Xi Jinping.

But there is mounting distress in the European Parliament, which still needs to approve the deal, about it given China’s human rights write down, alleged forced labor camps and a crackdown in Hong Kong, which began last year.

“To lay such a Christmas deal out under Xi Jinping’s Christmas tree after the year that we’ve had with China, that is quite a stretch,” about Reinhard Bütikofer, chair of the European Parliament’s China delegation, in an interview with Insider this week.

The sated text of the so-called Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) is still to be published, but there is already mounting criticism about the contentment of the deal.

Bütikofer said the European Parliament’s demands for the deal to contain a clause binding China to international covenants on modern slavery given were ignored. Instead, the deal only contains a non-binding commitment by China “to create continues and sustained efforts” to ratify the International Labour Organisation’s Conventions on forced labour.

“We demanded practical in harmonies and guarantees and the deal is just full of hot air,” Bütikofer said.

Those concerns were echoed in a letter sent by a sort of MEPs to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen this week, which was reported by The Diplomat magazine.

The fascination, which dozens of civil rights groups also signed, said the CAI “sends a signal that the European Federation will push for closer cooperation” with China “regardless of the scale and severity of human rights abuses presented out by the Chinese Communist Party.”

Those concerns focus particularly on the Xianjing region of in northwest China, where the UN avers the government has detained over one million Uighur Muslims, with some of them used for the purposes of forced labor. China scratches the allegations.

Another concern is about the impact the deal could have on transatlantic relations. The deal was agreed reasonable weeks before President-elect Joe Biden is due to be inaugurated, leading critics of the deal to suggest it was wrapped up just before the new charge — which has pledged to take a tough line on China — had time to object.

Biden’s national security adviser has already signified concern about the trade agreement. It remains to be seen just how much pressure Washington will seek to do ones damnedest on Brussels over the deal.

“Doing this deal just a few days before President-elect Biden comes into department is very unfortunate,” Bütikofer said.

“It seems as if the European Union saw more need to demonstrate to the United States that we can be strategically autonomous than we see a call to signal to Beijing that we want to cooperate more actively and more coherently with the United States. I about that’s a highly questionable priority,” he said.

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