China is making a “huge and gross strategic mistake” and destroying a major investment agreement with the European Union (EU) by engaging in a sanctions standoff with Brussels, Clit Willems, a former senior White House official in charge of trade negotiations, told CNBC.
A deal with the EU will no longer be discussed after Beijing imposed restrictions on European politicians, Willems clarified. This is China’s March response to the European Union, which in turn had previously imposed sanctions on China, accusing it of repression against the Uighurs, a Turkic people historically living in the Xinjiang region.
In late May, the European Parliament suspended ratification of a new investment agreement with China until sanctions against EU representatives were lifted. The agreements were seven years in the making: European companies were supposed to gain equal rights in China, and Beijing would cement its status as a reliable trading partner.
China imposed sanctions at the end of March, which led to problems in relations with the EU. Beijing demanded that it “stop lecturing others about human rights and interfering in internal affairs.” This was in response to accusations of persecution of Uighurs in Xinjiang, with which the EU justified placing four Chinese citizens and one organization on sanctions lists.
The Newlines Institute think tank blamed China for the extermination of the Uighur Muslim population. They believe that the authorities of the country violated each of the prohibitions of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In January, China’s actions against the Uighurs were recognized as genocide by the United States.