Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi said yesterday attempts by some in the EU to politicise trade issues are “not acceptable and will lead nowhere,” and that Beijing had been shocked when Brussels placed sanctions on Chinese officials.
Mr Wang, who is also foreign minister, made the remarks less than a week after the EU halted ratification of an investment pact with China until Beijing lifts its own sanctions on EU politicians.
China’s retaliatory sanctions came after Brussels in March blacklisted Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang, which Beijing denies.
The investment pact was not a “one-sided favour” and stoking political confrontation and economic decoupling does not serve the EU’s interests, Mr Wang said at a talk hosted by the Munich Security Conference.
China remains ready to expand cooperation with Europe based on mutual respect, he added.
Questioning how a strategic partner could take such action, Mr Wang said: “It has never come to our mind that the EU will put sanctions on us.”
The sanctions reminded Chinese people “of the days when they were bullied by European imperialists,” the Chinese official added.
He continued: “And as the Chinese government, we have our sovereignty to uphold.
“We have our national dignity to uphold.
“We have to push back falsehoods and disinformation.
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Responding to the bloc’s labelling of China as a systemic rival, Mr Wang argued China’s practices had so far worked in the best interests of Chinese citizens.
He added: “Just like the food that is different in the Chinese and Western cuisines that use either chopsticks or knife and fork. It’s there for its own particular reason.”
Siding with the EU, the chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee introduced sweeping legislation to boost economic competitiveness and push Beijing on human rights.
Representative Gregory Meeks introduced the “Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement Act,” or EAGLE Act, as the U.S. Senate separately heads toward a vote on its own legislative package seeking to counter China.
The desire for a hard line in dealings with China is one of the few truly bipartisan sentiments in the deeply divided US Congress, which is narrowly controlled by President Joe Biden’s fellow Democrats.
The Biden administration supports efforts to counter China, with officials repeatedly listing competition with Beijing among their greatest strategic challenges.
The 470-page bill introduced by Meeks addresses a range of issues, including increased investment to promote US manufacturing, trade, work with allies and partners, re-engagement in international organisations, and recognition of the treatment of China’s Uyghur Muslim minority as genocide.
The legislation read: “The United States must coordinate closely with allies and partners to compete effectively with (China), including to encourage allies and partners to assume, as appropriate, greater roles in balancing and checking aggressive (Chinese) behaviour.”
A committee aide said Meeks intends to work with committee Republicans on the legislation, in the hope of committee passage as soon as next month.
The measure would then be combined with legislation being considered by other House committees, and eventually combined with the Senate bill.
The House bill includes provisions to increase US support for Taiwan and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. And it mandates a review to assess Chinese companies listing on US financial markets, including whether they have contributed to human rights violations.
The measure also calls for cooperation with China in areas of common interest, especially climate change.