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South China Morning Post

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is trying to boost support for an investment agreement with the EU

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang has asked leaders of Spain and the Netherlands to support Beijing’s investment agreement with the European Union after a senior French official threatened to block it over concerns over forced labor. Intensive diplomatic maneuvering on Wednesday marked Beijing’s effort to secure an agreement before Joe Biden is sworn in as U.S. president in four weeks and wants to coordinate Chinese policy with Europe. Concerns over forced labor remain a stumbling block to EU-China agreement “China is ready to co-operate with the EU to push for the conclusion of an investment agreement as soon as possible,” Li told Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Chinese state media reported. Xinhua. Find out the latest insights and analyzes from our Global Impact newsletter about great stories from China. In a second call to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Xinhua said, Li vowed to work with the EU on agreement, climate change and green development, adding: “China hopes the EU will continue to provide a fair, open and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies made the calls hours after key French and Polish officials opposed the EU investment agreement, ie China’s responsibility towards the workforce. rights as well as the EU’s need for coordination with the US because of China. “We cannot facilitate investment in China if we do not commit to abolishing forced labor,” Franck Riester, the envoy of the minister in charge of trade at the French Foreign Ministry, said in an interview with Le Monde. Riester suggested the agreement could be blocked if Beijing does not agree to international pacts banning forced labor. Referring to the International Labor Organization, Riester said: “As for the investment agreement being negotiated, we have a red line: ratification of the ILO’s core conventions.” Many countries share our views. , such as Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. I also know that Germany is very attached to these issues. Riester said it would be unacceptable to encourage investment in China without sufficient human rights measures. Although he praised the agreement as “a significant step towards rebalancing our investment relations with China”, he argued that trade agreements should serve as “a lever to improve social issues and fight forced labor, especially Uighurs”. The Sino-EU investment agreement will not be a cure for troubled relations, observers say: “We must go simultaneously on all fronts: investment, trade, openness to public procurement, sustainable development and of course human rights,” the French minister said. “We are very concerned about the situation in Hong Kong, Inner Mongolia or the situation of the Uighurs in Xinjiang.” Most EU decisions require the support of both Germany and France, the bloc’s two leading members. Riester’s comments pointed to the French government’s reservations, although, according to diplomatic sources, Berlin is putting pressure to get the job done. Riester also confirmed that under the terms of the agreement – which diplomats said has reached its final stage – the EU would need to open its energy market to Chinese companies. Riester also said Brussels and Beijing had failed to agree on how to resolve disputes. Regarding Beijing’s need to commit to investor protection, Riester said there were concerns that European companies entering the Chinese market through the new agreement could be subjected to “sudden nationalization” by the Chinese government. “This is one of our trade policy priorities: we need a robust dispute resolution framework and a solid guarantee to ensure that China’s commitments are honored,” said Noah Barkin, an EU-China expert at Rhodium Group. he said that “the issue of forced labor is a red line for several countries, but France is the first to say so publicly. “It is clear that China will have to move on or the deal will not happen,” Barkin added. The Chinese embassy in France did not respond to requests for comment. Poland Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau also weighed in on the deal, saying: “Europe should seek a fair, mutually beneficial comprehensive investment agreement with China. We need more consultation and transparency, bringing our transatlantic allies aboard. ”> The Biden-Harris administration would welcome early consultations with our European partners on our common concerns about Chinese economic practices. >> – Jake Sullivan (@jakejsullivan) December 22, 2020 Roa’s comments came after Jake Sullivan, President-elect Joe Biden’s national security adviser, aimed for an agreement between the EU and China. “The Biden-Harris administration would welcome early consultations with our European partners on our common concerns about Chinese economic practices,” Sullivan wrote on Twitter. More information from the South China Morning Post: * Pressure comes on the brink of China-EU investment agreement China-EU investment agreement expected soon, says Foreign Minister Wang YiThis article Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang struggles to support support for investment agreement with EU first appeared in South China Morning PostFor the latest news from South China Morning Post download our mobile app Copyright 2020.