09/28/2020, 16.09
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Europe attacks China on human rights and trade

EU Council president tells UN that the EU has major differences with China over key values like democracy, human rights and the rule of law, which are the EU’s "compass" for action. He calls on Beijing to respect the rights of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Without an agreement on investments, the Europeans will not follow up on the strategic agenda with the Chinese. No split exists between the EU and the US.

Brussels (AsiaNews) – European Council President Charles Michel has launched a harsh attack against China at the United Nations General Assembly.

On Friday, the leader of the European Union clearly stated that the EU does not share the values ​​on which China’s political-economic system is founded.

“We,” he said, “stand on the side of the fundamental values of democracy, human rights, the rule of law and cooperation. It's our compass to pursue our interests.”

Michel went on to stress that the EU will continue to promote respect for human rights, including those of the Uyghur minority in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.

According to the UN and several observers, Beijing is systematically oppressing the province’s indigenous Turkic-speaking Muslim population.

The EU Council president also reiterated that Europe will not fail to support pro-democratic protesters in Hong Kong, “where international commitments guaranteeing the rule of law and democracy are being questioned” by Beijing.

A day earlier, in his speech to the UN, the French President Emmanuel Macron also lashed out at Beijing’s “hegemonic” behaviour.

For the French leader, asking for respect for human rights is not an interference in the affairs of a sovereign state, as China claims: it means applying the principles of the United Nations. Therefore, he called for an international mission to verify what is happening in Xinjiang.

The EU sees the Asian giant as a key partner in tackling common challenges such as global warming, the coronavirus pandemic and the cancellation of the debt of African countries. Despite this, the differences between the two sides seem to be taking precedence over the points of contact.

Bluntly, Michel said the EU is determined to rebalance its relationship with Beijing towards greater reciprocity and fair competition. His reference is to the limitations that China imposes on European companies that want to invest and operate in its territory.

Ongoing talks over major Sino-European investment agreement have not yet brought concrete results. Without such a deal, EU leaders have already warned that they will not follow up on the China-EU 2025 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation, which is designed to boost bilateral cooperation in the political, economic and security fields over the next five years.

In his address, Michel also reiterated the deep connection between the European Union and the United States, noting that transatlantic ties remain solid, and that differences of opinion are part of the relationship between the two sides of the Atlantic.

Some analysts believe that China is trying to exploit US-EU trade disputes to draw the EU into its own orbit.

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