China sanctions not solution to Hong Kong crisis: European Union

EU top diplomat Josep Borrell

The European Union said on Friday that China's imposition of a security law on Hong Kong had damaged ties with Beijing, but that imposing sanctions would not solve the crisis.

"The EU expresses its grave concern at the steps taken by China on May 28, which are not in conformity with its international commitments," EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, on behalf of 27 member states. "EU relations with China are based on mutual respect and trust. This decision further calls into question China's will to uphold its international commitments," he said, after talks with foreign ministers.

Asked whether Brussels might threaten sanctions after the new law was approved, Borrell said: "I don't think that sanctions are the way to solve problems in China."

Borrell said that only one of the member states - he did not say which - had raised the issue of possible sanctions, and added that plans to hold an EU-China summit in Germany later this year were not in question.

China's President Xi Jinping is due to meet the EU's 27 leaders in Leipzig in September. Borrell said the timetable of the meeting might yet change due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The cautious EU statement came after the US, Britain, Canada and Australia issued stern criticism of the planned law, which would punish secession and subversion of state power in Hong Kong.

Chinese security agencies will also be allowed to operate openly in Hong Kong, which has been an autonomous territory under its own basic law within China under the terms of its handover from Britain in 1997.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK will improve the rights of British National (Overseas) passport holders - a status offered to many Hong Kong residents - if China goes ahead.

And the United States has revoked the special status conferred on Hong Kong under its own diplomatic rules, paving the way for the territory to be stripped of trading and economic privileges.

Brussels did not go so far, but Borrell nevertheless stressed that it could not be business as usual.

"We want also to stress that our relationship with China are based on mutual respect and trust ... but this decision calls this into question," Borrell said. "And I think that we will have to raise the issue in our continued dialogue with China."

Similar articles

  • Commission opens probe over Google's Fitbit acquisition

    Commission opens probe over Google's Fitbit acquisition

    The proposed transaction would further entrench its dominant position in the online advertising markets

    The Commission opened on Tuesday an in-depth investigation to assess the proposed acquisition of Fitbit by Google. The Commission says its concerns are that the proposed transaction would further entrench Google's market position in the online advertising markets by increasing the already vast amount of data that Google could use for personalisation of the ads it serves and displays, the EU press service reported.

    51
  • Commission approves Spanish, Italian coronavirus schemes

    Commission approves Spanish, Italian coronavirus schemes

    The Commission approved on Friday both Spanish and Italian plans to set up financial schemes to tackle the coronavirus crisis. The Spanish plan includes setting up a €10bn budget fund to invest through debt and equity instruments in companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The Italian schemes, with an overall budget of €6bn, consist of incentives to the recapitalisation by private investors of SMEs' affected by the outbreak.

    48
  • EC concludes talks to secure coronavirus vaccine for Europeans

    EC concludes talks to secure coronavirus vaccine for Europeans

    The Commission concluded on Friday exploratory talks with a pharmaceutical company to purchase a potential vaccine against Covid-19, the EU press service reported. The envisaged contract with Sanofi-GSK would provide for an option for all EU Member States to purchase the vaccine. It is envisaged that, once a vaccine has proven to be safe and effective, the EC would have a contractual framework in place for the purchase of 300 million doses, on behalf of all EU Member States.

    95