China: 'Cold war two has already begun' warns EllwoodThe leader of the LREM MEPs in the European Parliament, Stéphane Séjourné, signed a letter on
China: ‘Cold war two has already begun’ warns Ellwood
The leader of the LREM MEPs in the European Parliament, Stéphane Séjourné, signed a letter on the subject of the investment agreement between the EU and China, torn off after seven years of negotiations and considered a victory for Beijing. The close adviser to Emmanuel Macron said he “will not vote” for the deal when MEPs will be called to ratify it in the European Parliament, until China ratifies the core conventions of the International Labour Organisation on forced labour.
Mr Séjourné explained that at the heart of his decision was the situation of the Uighur community in the communist country.
He said: “With the help of our commercial weapons, let’s persuade China to respect human rights.
“Since the announcement of an investment agreement between Europe and China at the end of December, the European Union has finally a lever to act on the unacceptable situation of Uighurs forced into the labour camps of Xinjiang Province in China.
“It is indeed the lives of 1million Uighurs that could be concretely improved if we, MEPs, refuse to vote for this agreement as it stands.
Emmanuel Macron defended the EU-China trade deal
EU-China trade deal: Stephane Sojourne said he will vote against it
“We Europeans fight for our values and our principles. We must defend human rights, the dignity of the human person, the fight against forced labour beyond our borders because these are universal values.
“We Europeans will not sacrifice our values for economic interests.
“This is why I can say today that I will not be responsible for the forced labour of the Uighurs: I will not vote for the investment agreement between the European Union and China.
“I will not vote on it until this country ratifies the fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organisation relating to forced labour.
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Emmanuel Macron said China ‘ China accepted to engage on International Labour Organisation regulation’
“Once these treaties are ratified, we will have the means to force China to apply its commitments and put an end to these abuses.”
He continued: “We Europeans must demand the immediate end of these inhuman camps. We Europeans must demand an immediate end to this violence against Uighur children.
“We Europeans must demand an immediate end to sterilisations and mass rapes inflicted on Uighur women.
“But our duty does not end there, we will not be satisfied with simple statements.
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EU-China deal: Stephane Sojourne said he has the Uighurs in mind
“Simply refusing the agreement allows us to assert our values, but how does that protect these women, children and men? To obtain significant advances and make a real difference, we must maintain a demanding dialogue and set conditions for our vote.
“European negotiators must have a mandate to confront the Chinese authorities about the situation of the Uighurs. If China wants this deal, it will have to engage in specific procedures to eradicate forced labour.
“While the United States has entered into a geopolitical rivalry with China, only Europe can maintain a bond while defending its vision of ‘fair trade’. The principle that should guide us is simple: the effectiveness of our action to save this martyred population.
“We, MEPs, have a fundamental role to play today. This investment agreement between the European Union and China is not an end, but a means. It is up to us to seize it in order to live up to our History. With the help of our trade weapons, let’s persuade China to respect human rights.”
The EU and China signed the investment deal in December 2020
Asked by Politico on what he thinks of the position of other MEPs limiting themselves to urging China to take “concrete steps” towards ratification, Mr Séjourné replied: “It depends on what they mean by that.
“It cannot be good intentions or a state of mind.
“If you agree with me that any trade agreement is also a political agreement, that implies a certain balance of power between the two parties.
“And this is where the European Parliament must push for action rather than talk on the subject of Uyghurs and freedom fighters in Hong Kong.”
China has been urged to ratify the core conventions of the International Labour Organisation
Earlier this month, President Macron said there was a need to put pressure on China when it comes to human rights — an issue US President Joe Biden’s administration has been publicly forceful on — while Germany and other European countries have preferred a more discreet approach to China.
But the French leader defended the EU-China investment deal on this issue, amid criticism that the deal is weak on labor rights provisions at a time of mounting evidence of abuses at labour camps in Xinjiang against the Uighur minority.
He said: “For the very first time, China accepted to engage on International Labour Organisation regulation and to commit precisely on labour issues, which are part of our human rights package.”
In an attempt to play down discrepancies between Mr Séjourné and the French President, a close friend told Playbook that the two positions are “not contradictory but complementary”.
Adding the MEP can “go further” in his remarks than the head of state.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega