They agreed to continue to work together on issues such as climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and international trade….reports Asian Lite News
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday held a virtual summit with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel amid strained ties with European Union (EU).
According to Global Times, the leaders of France and Germany expressed their support behind an EU-China investment agreement, which European Parliament voted to freeze the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) in May.
They agreed to continue to work together on issues such as climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and international trade.
This came at an increasingly tense moment for EU-China ties, with growing concerns about human rights violations in China, particularly the persecution of the Uyghur minority in the province of Xinjiang.
Earlier in March, the EU imposed sanctions on China marking the EU’s first punitive measures on Beijing since it imposed an arms embargo after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
In retaliation to the sanctions, China also introduced sanctions against 10 European Union officials and four European organisations after accusing them of spreading lies and false information about the Xinjiang region.
There is a growing concern in Europe over China’s human rights record on issues, including alleged forced labour camps and a crackdown in Hong Kong against anti-government protestors.
China had accused the EU of imposing “unacceptable” preconditions on a visit to Xinjiang province.
In a statement, the Chinese mission to the EU said Beijing has also invited diplomats from the EU and its member states posted in China to visit Xinjiang many times.
“However, the trip has not materialized due to preconditions set by the EU side, which are unacceptable to any sovereign state,” the statement read.
The mission also warned that any interference in China’s internal affairs will be met with a strong and resolute response.
The Chinese mission’s statement came only hours after the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s foreign and security policy agency, said the bloc has taken “a firm stance” on human rights in Xinjiang and would introduce new due diligence rules to ensure European companies identify and address forced labour risks in their supply chains.
The comments were included in a written response to a February petition urging the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to investigate the case of Ilham Tohti, an outspoken Uyghur economic professor who was jailed for separatism in 2014, and the treatment of other Uyghurs activists.
The Chinese mission rejected the EEAS’ remarks, saying the statement is in “total disregard of facts and confounding black and white”.
“We express our strong disapproval of and firm opposition to it. The document, listing what the EU has done on Xinjiang in recent years, is clear evidence of its interference in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of the so-called Xinjiang-related issues and fully exposes its hypocrisy on human rights issues,” the mission said.
It contended that the EU side is in “no position to make groundless accusations”.
Xinjiang is a province in Communist China where an estimated two million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been detained since 2016. They are believed to have been placed in detention centres across Xinjiang.
Many former detainees allege they were subjected to attempted indoctrination, physical abuse and even sterilisation. However, China regularly denies such mistreatment and says the camps provide vocational training. (ANI)