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  • China is a strategic partner for the EU, but is not without flaws 
  • EU-China relations should be based on respect for human rights, rule of law and fair competition 
  • Monitor China’s attempts to take control of banking and energy sectors 

EU states must unite against China’s bids to buy up control of their strategic infrastructure and insist that it respect human rights, said MEPs on Wednesday.

The resolution on the EU-China relations stresses that China is a strategic partner for the EU and that there is huge potential for further cooperation, but not without challenges. MEPs call on EU member states to step up their unity on China’s policies and take advantage of the EU’s much greater collective bargaining power in order to counteract China’s influence.

Human rights and rule of law

Human rights, the rule of law and fair competition should be at the core of EU’s engagement with China, MEPs say. They condemn the harassment, arrest and prosecution of human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and other civil society members in China. China’s intensified attempts to deny or restrict the access of foreign journalists to large parts of the country or artificial requests to renew visas are very worrying, they add.

Chinese investments

The resolution highlights China’s attempts to invest in European strategic infrastructure via its “Belt and Road initiative”, which hampers free trade and places Chinese firms at an advantage. MEPs recall that such investments are part of China’s strategy to take control of the banking and energy sectors, as well as other supply chains. They therefore call on China to improve transparency and adhere to environmental and social standards. MEPs also urge EU member states and accession countries to share data with EU institutions on Chinese infrastructure investments.

Chinese crackdown on internet freedom

MEPs note that eight out of world’s 25 most popular websites are blocked by China, including the websites of major IT firms. They condemn China’s ongoing crackdown on internet freedom and massive cyberspace surveillance and urge it to introduce a regulation on enforceable privacy rights.

The resolution on the state of EU-China relations was passed by 530 votes to 53, with 55 abstentions.

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EP rapporteur Bas Belder (ECR, NL) said: “The critical principle for solid relations between the EU and China is reciprocity, preferably in all areas from market access to freedom of the press. Reciprocity fosters mutual trust and establishes a solid foundation for strategic partnership between EU and China.”

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution