U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has lashed out at the weakness of China’s bilateral investment treaty with the European Union, warning that the bloc will be unable to protect against security risks posed by the Beijing government. He stressed that European workers would be affected by the agreement and would not really be able to avoid being preyed upon by China. In the interview, he also described China’s continuing efforts to negotiate and sign agreements that are “unfair, unequal, unbalanced and non-reciprocal.”
Mr. Pompeo, a longtime critic of China, stopped short of urging the European Union to abandon the investment pact, but made clear that the United States was not interested in any such pact. “When we look at it, it’s a very weak agreement,” he said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “It doesn’t really protect European workers from the predations of the Chinese Communist Party. We care too much about our workers, our employees, our manufacturing, our intellectual property, and having this weak agreement will encourage China to continue to engage in the same activities.”
The China-EU Investment Agreement has been seven years in the making. After 35 rounds of negotiation, the two sides have successfully signed the agreement. On the evening of December 30, Chinese President Xi Jinping held a video meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, President of the European Council Michel Michel and President of the European Commission Michel von der Leyen in Beijing. This is part of the EU’s new relationship with China, which the EU sees as a partner and systemic competitor. The agreement aims to create a unified legal framework to replace the existing bilateral investment treaties between China and the EU’s 26 member states, according to public sources. China and the European Union launched the first round of talks on the deal in 2014,
Xi stressed that as the year 2021 is approaching, China and the EU, as two major forces, two markets and two civilizations in the world, should act responsibly and actively, step up dialogue, enhance mutual trust, deepen cooperation, properly handle differences and jointly cultivate new opportunities and start new developments. We should coordinate anti-epidemic actions, jointly promote economic recovery, synergeze development strategies, accelerate green development, and promote multilateral cooperation.
Agence France-Presse said the EU had expressed concerns within itself about China’s human rights record, including the mass imprisonment of at least one million ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang, but had chosen to press ahead anyway. “There is a lot of unfinished business in the world,” Pompeo said in the interview. “Changing the American public’s perception of the Communist Party of China and formulating a response to the government in Beijing is a critical task for the United States. But this is a long-term project that the United States has neglected for 10 years, and we will turn the page on it and set a new direction for China’s foreign policy, and it seems like we have a lot of work to do.”
When asked by host David Rubenstein if China had been tough on Hong Kong and Xinjiang, he said he expected China to relax its restrictions on Hong Kong or assumed it was a fait fait. Pompeo responded, “I’m afraid I have to admit it’s a fait accompli, and I hope I’m wrong about it, but everything we’ve seen over the last year suggests that Hong Kong is going to be just another city controlled by the Communist Party, and that’s the most unfortunate thing because Hong Kong has a special status. The Chinese government has insisted for 50 years that Hong Kong should have a special status, but they are now breaking their promise before they are halfway there.”
Mr Pompeo added: “The people of Hong Kong are now being threatened by the Hong Kong Security Act, which suggests that their actions could very well result in jail time. This means that some people will choose to flee Hong Kong, which is a bad sign. We all know what happens when states start imprisoning people who want to leave. We see something similar in Europe, when people choose to close their borders not to shut out other people, but to leave their own people at their borders, and I think that says a lot about the vulnerability of particular regimes and how they can sense that their own people are not willing to accept their own country as the best threat.”
China and the United States have reached an agreement in the first phase of tough trade negotiations over the past few years. Pompeo also mentioned the U.S. belief that China has ultimately failed to live up to its commitments under the first phase of the trade agreement. He added: “The fact that the global economy is slowing down a lot has caused the original commitments of the trade agreement to slow down a bit, but the Chinese have continued to say that they’re going to keep going and we’ve seen signs that they intend to comply. Regrettably, a major issue in the U.S. -China trade relationship remains unresolved, namely the theft of intellectual property, which relates to the principles of fairness and reciprocity, as well as broad basic investment rules for intellectual property protection across the industry. The Chinese government has chosen not to do things that are essential to ensuring fair and balanced trade between China and the United States.”