In contrast to the EU, the US Congress passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act in June 2019, and on September 22, 2020, the US House of Representatives passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.
As The Gatestone Institute’s Judith Bergman notes, the US has sanctioned at least 28 Chinese officials over their actions in Xinjiang. The list includes senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials, such as current Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, who executes Chinese government policy in the region. He is also the current First Political Commissar of the XPCC, a role in which he has exercised control over the entity. According to the US Department of the Treasury:
“The XPCC is a paramilitary organization in the XUAR that is subordinate to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The XPCC enhances internal control over the region by advancing China’s vision of economic development in XUAR that emphasizes subordination to central planning and resource extraction. The XPCC’s structure reflects a military organization, with 14 divisions made up of dozens of regiments… [Chen Quanguo]… has a notorious history of intensifying security operations in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, where he was deployed before arriving in Xinjiang…”
Meanwhile, the European Council, consisting of the heads of state of the EU member states and that is currently presided over by Germany, is unlikely to demand anything from China, let alone sanction it or do anything that might jeopardize its trade with Europe. This year, for the first time, China became the EU’s largest trading partner, surpassing the US.
Crucially, the EU does not want to jeopardize the finalization of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, which the EU and China have sought to realize for seven years now.
And, as The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports, China and the EU could complete the deal this week, with the 27 countries in the trade bloc unanimously approving the agreement despite earlier reservations.
An EU diplomat with knowledge of the discussions said that on Monday representatives of the EU member states were briefed by EU negotiators who had “reported on recent positive developments in the negotiations with China including on labour standards”.
The representatives “broadly welcomed the latest progress in the EU-China talks”, the diplomat said.
“After four years of Donald Trump, the EU is sending a very clear message that it will go its own way on China,” said Noah Barkin, an EU-China specialist with Rhodium Group, a research firm.
“This doesn’t doom transatlantic cooperation with Biden, but it shows just how difficult it will be. The big winner if this deal does come together is Beijing.”
Erik Brattberg, director of the Europe programme at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the EU’s “last-minute push” to complete the deal with China “has already raised eyebrows in Washington”, adding:
“It risks undermining the credibility of the EU’s call for a joint transatlantic China strategy with the US even before the new Biden administration settles in.”
The unanimous support from the EU member states came despite France and Poland previously raising reservations about the deal.
Franck Riester, the minister delegate in charge of trade in the French foreign ministry, said last week that if the EU failed to commit to abolishing forced labour “we cannot facilitate investment in China”.
Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau also warned that Europe would need more consultations and transparency to win over its transatlantic allies.
By moving forward with the deal, Brussels also turned a blind eye to a thinly veiled warning from Jake Sullivan, Biden’s designated national security adviser, who said the Biden administration “would welcome early consultations with our European partners” on the concerns about China’s economic practices.
Outspoken China hawk, and hedge fund billionaire, Kyle Bass summed it up succinctly:
“Europe is so deeply corrupted by Chinese money that this deal was a fait accompli.”
Simply put, the EU is willing to turn a blind eye to any and every action by China against the world in the interests of money flowing into the failing super-state.
If reached, the deal would come hard on the heels of China’s success in creating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership with 14 other Asia-Pacific nations, and the EU’s post-Brexit agreement with Britain.