China’s EU Sanctions Are the Latest Proof: Beijing Doesn’t Understand Democracies

Andreea Brinza | 31 March 2021

This week, in an act of tit-for-tat after the European Union imposed sanctions on Chinese officials involved in Xinjiang human rights abuses, China imposed its own sanctions on five Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), three members of national parliaments, two EU committees, and a number of European think tanks and experts on China. But these Chinese sanctions will, ironically, have a stronger negative impact on China than on those targeted.

At the end of 2020, China and the EU finalized negotiations for the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). This agreement was criticized by numerous observers even while supported by the EU, government leaders, and the business community. Its goal is to regulate the foreign investment framework and help European companies better compete on the Chinese market. Chinese companies have largely open access on the EU market, but European companies aren’t so lucky. The CAI aims to change that. The fact that China agreed to a number of concessions to wrap up negotiations before the inauguration of the Biden administration shows that it had an interest in the CAI coming to life and strengthening EU-China relations. But in order for that to happen, the agreement still needs approval from the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.

After China’s recent sanctions, the odds that the CAI will pass through the European Parliament decreased dramatically. China seems to have strategically (and shortsightedly) chosen five MEPs that come from all the four main political groups in the European Parliament – the European People’s Party, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, Renew Europe, Greens-European Free Alliance – whose support is vital if the agreement is to be approved. But, obviously, MEPs will be wary to approve an agreement with a country that just sanctioned their colleagues and friends, not to mention that the five MEPs will probably lobby even harder against the CAI.

To see how members of parliament tend to be sympathetic to one another, China already had the case of Italy to study.

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This article has been published by Andreea Brînză, Vice President of RISAP, in the The Diplomat. You can read the full article in The Diplomat.

Photo Credits: The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012 (Flickr/Remko Tanis)

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Andreea Brinza

Andreea Brinza is a researcher and the Vice President of RISAP. Her interests are related to the geopolitics, geostrategy and geoeconomics of the Asia-Pacific region and especially China. Her research focuses on the Belt and Road Initiative.

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