Just a few days after the holding of the China-France-Germany virtual summit where the top leaders of the three countries reached an agreement to expand cooperation, some politicians in the European Parliament are trying to interrupt the recovering China-Europe ties again by using the “human rights” and China’s Hong Kong affairs as excuses to launch a new round of provocations.
On Thursday, the European Parliament adopted three resolutions on the human rights situation in Hong Kong as well as in Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“The Parliament condemns in the strongest terms the recent forced closure of the Apple Daily newspaper. MEPs also called on the Commission, the Council and EU countries to decline invitations to government representatives and diplomats to attend the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics unless the Chinese government demonstrates a verifiable improvement in the human rights situation in Hong Kong,” a press release from the parliament said on Thursday .
Not only in Brussels, Washington is also taking similar actions to interfere in China’s domestic affairs. China’s legitimate efforts to restore public order and safeguard its national security in Hong Kong pose an “extraordinary threat” to the US’ “security and interests,” US President Joe Biden declared on Wednesday, as he extended a national emergency designation put in place by his predecessor Donald Trump a year ago.
The resolution in the European Parliament will not be binding, said some observers, and those politicians who pushed the resolution don’t care about what’s really happening in Hong Kong, because all they want is to use the matter to further interrupt the recovering China-EU cooperation and expand their influence to affect the decision-making process of the EU.
This also serves the interest of the US since Washington doesn’t want the agreement of pragmatic cooperation reached by China and major powers in Europe to be realized.
The Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) condemned the US government’s continuous meddling in Hong Kong affairs, which are purely China’s internal affairs, and urged the US to correct its mistakes.
It’s a routine practice of the European Parliament, given its continuous efforts to bring up new motions, which are not legally binding, and cannot influence the European Commission. It also aims to bring up its position in the EU decision-making system by emphasizing matters relevant to human rights and values, Cui Hongjian, director of the department of European studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday.
For instance, the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted in May to freeze the ratification of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement of Investment (CAI), and before that some conservative anti-China politicians in the parliament hyped the “human rights” issue about China’s Xinjiang and sanctioned Chinese officials and institutes in Xinjiang, which seriously damaged China-EU ties and the ongoing cooperation.
It’s not surprising that they continue to suppress China on the Hong Kong-related affairs to maintain its influence inside the EU political system by “criticizing the European Commission for being too practical and attaching too much importance to business interests with China while downplaying human rights issues,” Cui said.
However, there are significant differences in the EU on how to handle China-related issues. In the latest video conference among Chinese, French and German top leaders, there was a consensus to support the EU-China investment deal, Cui noted.
“Whether the EU will take concrete and binding measures to confront China on Hong Kong affairs will depend on how different forces inside the EU counter each other on this matter, which will also depend on the overall environment of China-Europe relations. The fundamentals of this relationship may also drive the European Commission to not follow the European Parliament,” Cui said.
China and the EU are now undertaking a legal review, translation and other technical preparations for the CAI, Gao Feng, spokesperson of China’s commerce ministry, told a regular press conference on Thursday, for the first time indicating that the agreement is still progressing since it was frozen by the EU in May.
The Biden administration refused to correct the mistakes the Trump administration had made and in many cases has done worse, such as on the Hong Kong matter. The US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 11 individuals for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and restricting freedom of expression or assembly of the citizens of Hong Kong. These actions were taken pursuant to an executive order imposed by Trump on July 14, 2020 on declaring a national emergency with respect to the situation in Hong Kong
Then the US expanded the sanctions list to cover more local officials in Hong Kong, including Tam Yiu-chung, a member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.
“I’ve always thought that the so-called US sanctions are ridiculous and groundless. The central government has reiterated that Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs, which have nothing to do with the US, which the US government should not meddle in,” Tam told the Global Times on Thursday.
The US has been distorting the “one country, two systems” principle by meddling in the Hong Kong affairs and supporting various anti-China rioters, the commissioner office of the Chinese foreign ministry in the HKSAR said in a statement released on Thursday.
“These actions blatantly trample on international laws and basic norms of international relations, the spokesperson of the commissioner’s office said in a statement on Thursday. It also severely challenges China’s sovereignty, security and economic interests,” said the office’s statement.
Tam also noted that he does not expect the Biden administration to drop the Hong Kong question to attack China. On whether the Chinese central government will use the Anti-Foreign Sanction Law to respond to the latest move Biden made, Tam said the central government and the HKSAR government have their own arrangements.
Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said that the US’ continuous imposition of sanctions on officials in Hong Kong and the mainland officials is anticipated. In the past year, important proxies of the US and pro-West media like Apple Daily have been arrested or probed, and the US would have increased its sanctions level on China and its Hong Kong SAR.
For example, the US government did not further increase the number of officials on its sanctions list, fearing its interests in Hong Kong may be compromised by China’s countermeasures, and Washington is also concerned over the effect of China’s Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law, Lau told the Global Times.