China defends sanctions after Europe freezes investment pact
China has defended retaliatory sanctions on the European Union after lawmakers in the bloc voted to freeze an investment deal agreed to late last year.
“China’s decision to take countermeasures is a legitimate response to the EU’s unilateral sanctions and confrontation,” a spokesperson for China’s mission to the EU said late Thursday.
“The China-EU investment agreement is a balanced agreement that benefits both sides. It is not a gift given by one side to the other,” the spokesperson said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
European Parliament lawmakers voted to halt talks on ratifying the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, citing “baseless and arbitrary” sanctions imposed by Beijing on European individuals and entities. No negotiations on ratifying the deal will be held while the sanctions are in place, they added.
Concern over ratification of the agreement - which was seven years in the making - arose in March, when China retaliated against the US, UK and EU over sanctions related to allegations of human rights abuses in the western region of Xinjiang. Beijing said at the time it would punish 10 individuals and four entities in the EU, saying the measures “harm China’s sovereignty and interests.”
China has been criticized by Western governments over its treatment of Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. A panel of United Nations experts in 2019 said an estimated 1 million people have been sent to counter-terrorism internment facilities in the region, part of a set of policies the US has said amount to genocide.
China has hit back at the charges, saying it’s fighting terrorism. Beijing says its activities in Xinjiang are aimed at building infrastructure, and providing economic and educational opportunities.
The move by the EU lawmakers comes before President Joe Biden attends a US-EU summit in Brussels in June, marking his first foreign trip as his nation’s leader.
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