The controversial EU-China trade deal approved by the European Commission in December was torpedoed yesterday by the European Parliament. The Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) would have opened the door to greater European investment in Chinese markets, but after it was signed last year, it faced criticism for neglecting to take a stronger stand against Uyghur forced labor.
Top EU officials, responding to those complaints, trotted out a ridiculous response, essentially saying that they would take Beijing at its word. “China has committed to effectively implement [International Labor Organization] Conventions it has ratified, and to work towards ratification of the ILO fundamental Conventions, including on forced labor,” they said, despite ample evidence that the Party continues to engage in forced-labor practices. In April, German chancellor Angela Merkel praised the agreement for its “mutual market access and reciprocity” and “legal certainty and transparency.
Now, the 599–30 vote for a resolution freezing further consideration of the CAI, which would have needed approval by the EU Parliament, effectively reverses those officials’ decision to overlook Beijing’s bad behavior.