15 Sep, 2021

New EU-China strategy must have fundamental values at its core

The Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament is calling for the EU to set the foundations for a firm new strategy for China, based on dialogue when it comes to global challenges like climate change and health crises, while raising concerns over systemic human rights violations.

In a report on the new EU-China Strategy, debated on 14 September in the European Parliament plenary, Renew Europe stressed the strategic importance of the EU-China relationship, but made clear that the ratification process of the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) cannot start until China lifts sanctions against MEPs and EU institutions.

Hilde Vautmans MEP (Open Vld, BE), European Parliament Standing Rapporteur on China and Renew Europe Group coordinator in the Foreign Affairs Committee, outlined in her report six pillars on which the European Union should build a new strategy to deal with China: cooperation on global challenges, engagement on international norms and human rights, identifying risks and vulnerabilities, building partnerships with like-minded partners, fostering strategic autonomy and defending European interests and values.

“China's rise poses a challenge to the liberal world order. That sounds very dramatic and to many perhaps a far-off thing, but reality shows us otherwise. If China withholds information about the coronavirus or spreads disinformation about it, it is our business. If China flouts international law and supports the most repressive regimes in the world, it is our business too. When China exports its authoritarian model and censorship and silences MEPs for defending human rights, the world becomes a little less free, and that too is our business. And yet, we have solely defined our relationship with China in terms of trade. That has to change.

Now, the European Parliament is raising the alarm. We stand united in our belief that we must put our naivety away when dealing with China and must develop a more assertive China strategy, one that recognizes that China is more than just an interesting trading partner and takes account of the challenges and risks associated with the rise of China.”, said Vautmans.

Earlier this year, the Renew Europe Group also adopted and published its blueprint for an EU-China strategy, which can be consulted here.

Photo credit: Genevieve Engel, European Parliament 2021.

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