Tag Archives: China

Hong Kong: EU expresses «grave concerns»

“The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress adopted the National Security Law in Hong Kong on 30 June and subsequently promulgated it in Hong Kong the same day. The European Union reiterates its grave concerns about this law which was adopted without any meaningful prior consultation of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council and civil society. reads the Declaration of the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on behalf of the the European Union on the adoption by China’s National People’s Congress of a National Security Legislation on Hong Kong.

“The European Union has a strong stake in the continued stability and prosperity of Hong Kong under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. It attaches great importance to the preservation of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, in line with the Basic Law and with international commitments, as well as to the respect for this principle.

“There are concerns about the conformity of the new law with Hong Kong’s Basic Law and with China’s international commitments. In line with assurances that China gave in the past, the European Union considers it essential that the existing rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents are fully protected, including freedom of speech, of the press and of publication, as well as freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration. The provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights (ICCPR) as enshrined in Hong Kong legislation must continue to be fully applied.

“The European Union is concerned that the law risks seriously undermining the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong, and having a detrimental effect on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. Both of these principles remain essential for the continued stability and prosperity of Hong Kong, and are therefore of vital interest to the European Union and the international community.

“The European Union urges China to avoid any act which undermines Hong Kong’s autonomy in the legal field, including in terms of human rights.

“The European Union is assessing the implications of such a law and will continue to raise its concerns in its dialogue with China. It will continue to follow developments closely, including in the context of the upcoming Legislative Council elections on 6 September, which need to proceed as planned and in an environment conducive to the exercise of democratic rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Basic Law.

EU-China Summit videoconference

European Union and China held their 22nd bilateral Summit via videoconference on 22 June 2020. President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, accompanied by High Representative Josep Borrell, hold the Summit meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang followed by exchanges with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

EU-China relations have evolved in recent years. Our economic interdependency is high, and we must work together on global challenges like climate action, meeting the Sustainable Development Goals or dealing with COVID-19. Engaging and cooperating with China is both an opportunity and necessity. But, at the same time, we have to recognise that we do not share the same values, political systems, or approach to multilateralism. We will engage in a clear-eyed and confident way, robustly defending EU interests and standing firm on our values” President Michel said.

The COVID-pandemic and a number of major bilateral and multilateral challenges show clearly the EU – China partnership is crucial, be it in terms of trade, climate, technology, and the defence of multilateralism. But for our relations to develop further, they must become more rules-based and reciprocal, in order to achieve a real level playing-field” President von der Leyen said.

The EU-China summit had a comprehensive agenda addressing bilateral relations; regional and international issues, the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery.

The EU recalled the important commitments made at the 2019 EU-China Summit and stressed the need for the implementation of these commitments in a dynamic and result oriented manner as progress today is limited.

The EU strongly emphasised the need to advance negotiations for an ambitious EU-China Comprehensive Investment Agreement that addresses the current asymmetries in market access and ensures a level playing field.. Urgent progress is needed in particular on behaviour of State-Owned Enterprises, transparency on subsidies and rules tackling forced transfers of technology.

On economic and trade issues, the EU recalled the joint commitment to work constructively and expeditiously towards the resolution of a number of market access and regulatory issues. The EU welcomed confirmation by China that the recent China-US “phase 1” deal will be implemented in full compatibility with World Trade Organisation (WTO) obligations and without discrimination against EU operators. The EU recalled its expectation that European exporters immediately benefit from trade facilitating measures in the agri-food sector.

The EU reiterated the urgent need for China to engage in future negotiations on industrial subsidies in the WTO, and address overcapacity in traditional sectors such as steel as well as high-tech areas.

The EU is looking forward to the signature of the EU-China Agreement on Geographical Indications in coming weeks and entry into force in nearest future.

The Summit was also an opportunity to discuss the importance of the digital sector to economies and societies worldwide. The EU stressed that the development of new digital technologies must go hand in hand with the respect of fundamental rights and data protection. The EU also raised outstanding issues on cybersecurity, disinformation.

Leaders had a substantive discussion on climate change. China is the EU’s partner under the Paris Agreement, but needs to commit to decisive and ambitious domestic action to reduce emissions in the short term and to set a goal of climate neutrality at the earliest possible date.

The EU called on China to assume greater responsibility in dealing with global challenges through the rules-based international system, promoting international peace and security, and adhering to international standards to support sustainable development, especially in Africa.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU underlined the shared responsibility to participate in global efforts to stop the spread of the virus, boost research on treatments and vaccines, and support a green and inclusive global recovery. The EU stressed the need for solidarity in addressing the consequences in developing countries, notably as regard debt relief. The EU also called on China to fully participate in the independent review of lessons learned from the international health response to COVID-19, mandated by the resolution adopted at the last World Health Assembly. The EU also called on China to facilitate the return of EU residents in China.

On Hong Kong, the EU reiterated its grave concerns at steps taken by China to impose national security legislation from Beijing and considers those steps not in conformity with the Hong Kong Basic Law and China’s international commitments, and put pressure on the fundamental rights and freedoms of the population protected by the law and the independent justice system.

The EU raise its concerns on the deteriorating human rights situation, including the treatment of minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, and of human rights defenders, as well as restrictions on fundamental freedoms. The EU also underlined its expectation that the Human Rights Dialogue will take place in China later in the year once the COVID-19 restrictions are eased. EU Leaders raised a number of individual cases, including the reports on citizens who have disappeared after reporting/expressing their views on the handling of the Coronavirus outbreak, as well as the continued arbitrary detention of Swedish citizen Gui Minhai and two Canadian citizens – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

The EU and China exchanged views on a number of regional and international issues, including Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear deal), Afghanistan as well as situation on the Korean Peninsula. The EU expressed concerns about the escalation of other regional conflicts and the importance of upholding international law in the maritime domain. We agreed to continue contacts in the future

Borrell-Pompeo transatlantic dialogue

“Today we have had an important Foreign Affairs Council with a video conference with the Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo.

“The main point of the agenda was this: transatlantic relations.

“We engaged in a strategic dialogue with Mike Pompeo on our relations and on the key foreign policy issues both for the European Union and the United States.

https://twitter.com/eu_eeas/status/1272551225947537413?s=21

“…It is unnecessary to stress it, but let me do it – the transatlantic partnership is one of the key pillars of the world order and today’s video meeting reaffirmed the commitment of the European Union Member States to continue this close transatlantic cooperation. Maybe we do not agree on everything, but our commitment to transatlantic cooperation is as strong as ever.We focused on three main issues: China, the Peace Process in the Middle East, and the Eastern neighbourhood, with an emphasis on Ukraine. And we discussed as a cross-cutting issue, the problem of disinformation, which is affecting the three of them – and mainly the ones related to the Eastern neighbourhood and China.

“…We exchanged views on China and its growing assertiveness on many fronts. There are issues that we face together in the relationship with China and where our close cooperation is very important to address them jointly. This includes, for sure, the situation in Hong Kong. I suggested to launch a distinct, bilateral dialogue focussing on China and the challenges its actions and ambitions mean for us – the United States and the European Union.

“On the Middle East Peace Process, we made it clear that it is important to encourage the Israelis and the Palestinians to engage in a credible and meaningful political process.We recognise that the United States’ plan created a certain momentum about a political process that had stopped for too long, and this momentum can be used to start joint international efforts on the basis of existing internationally-agreed parameters. We, from the European Union, stand ready to help and to facilitate such a process.We were also clear about the consequences of a possible annexation for the prospects of a two-state solution, but also for regional stability. On that I think that many Member States were very clear about it.

On the Eastern Neighbourhood, which was the third pillar of our conversation today, we confirmed that the strong European Union-United States partnership will remain crucial – particularly on Ukraine.

Of course, we still need Russia to do its part in the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, and our position remains clear and unchanged.

Some Member States also raised the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, where we are increasingly concerned about the recent escalations from Turkey. We agreed on the need for de-escalation and to return to a true partnership. There have been some incidents during the last days around Operation Irini. We are aware of that and tomorrow we will talk about it in the Council of Defence Ministers.

I also recalled that we are organising the Brussels Syria Conference [Supporting the future of Syria and the region – Brussels conference] on the 30th of June. It will be the fourth time that we do that, and I asked for the United States’ participation.

Finally, disinformation – this is a shared challenge. External disinformation actors are targeting both of us and we agreed to look at ways to reinforce our partnership in responding to this growing problem. Truth has to prevail. Democracy is a system that works on the basis of free and fair information. If citizens do not have access to free information or if citizens are poisoned with fake news, then their participation in democratic processes can be jeopardised”.

EU «grave concerns» over China leap in Hong Kong

Today the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell has issued the Declaration on behalf of the European Union on Hong Kong:

The EU expresses its grave concern at the steps taken by China on 28 May, which are not in conformity with its international commitments (Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984) and the Hong Kong Basic Law. This risks to seriously undermine the ‘One Country Two Systems’ principle and the high degree of autonomy of the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong”.
“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. We will raise the issue in our continuing dialogue with China”.

At presentlChina is proposing to introduce a new national security law, which critics believe could be used to crack down on rights and political activists.

https://twitter.com/iingwen/status/1265980907137101826?s=21

Borrell denies “kowtow” to China

Disinformation around the coronavirus pandemic: Opening statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell at the European Parliament on April 30.

“…As is the case for all of the European External Action Service’s publications, there are internal procedures to ensure the appropriate structure, quality and length of our products. Given the sensitive nature of the information, every claim is verified before it is used in public material, which often delays by some days its publication. However – and let me underline this – the content and the timing of the European External Action Service’s public assessments on disinformation around the coronavirus pandemic are determined by the European External Action Service, and the European External Action Service alone. We have not bowed to anyone.

“Let me be clear: we are a diplomatic service. We maintain constant contact with representatives of third countries. This includes listening to their views on our policies and our assessments. But this cannot be presented as bowing to political pressure from outside. Especially on such crucial issues as disinformation at the time of this pandemic, where transparency is key.

“Let me address, therefore, directly what I can call the main “accusation”, if I can refer to it in such terms. An accusation that, I believe, has led to our discussion today: that the European Union “bowed” to Chinese pressure, as formulated in an article by the New York Times.

“After having been informed by the services about the way they proceeded in this case, I can assure you that no changes have been introduced to the report published last week to allay the concerns of a third party, in this case, China. The report very clearly points out State-sponsored disinformation campaigns and very specifically names the actors behind them – including China. There was no “watering down” of our findings, however uncomfortable they could be. Please check it personally, it is all online (link is external). You can compare the three reports, where we have progressively been refining our analysis and increased our understanding of how the different actors have been developing their messages and narratives.

“Let me also make a point about the functioning of a diplomatic service and activities. As you know, calls to present complaints or to advise in favour of a given course of action are the daily bread of diplomacy. We, at the European Union, practice them constantly, as do all other international actors, even our closest partners. It would be wrong to consider this inappropriate. I can assure you that I am very much used to it.

“Large international actors can accompany diplomatic demarches with a range of incentives and disincentives, which sometimes do not even need to be explicitly mentioned. We all bring things to the table, so that other decision makers take them into account. This is happening every day, from everybody, including us.

“The European Union is an international player, and this is our added value. Most of our Member States, taken separately, would stand no chance at all when faced with larger powers. Unsettling us is not easy as long as our Member States stand together. Those that are currently fanning the idea that the European Union may be giving up on its interests or principles under pressure by third countries should read attentively the report we published on disinformation. They should read it, and then they will acknowledge that we are among the very few to dare refer to such facts and publicise them.

“The choice of words used by those that criticise the European Union, saying “bowing to pressure”, has a clear historical resonance: it comes from Georges Macartney, a British diplomat who, in the XVIII century, went to China and failed due to his refusal to “kowtow” to the Emperor, which in Chinese means “to bow”. You see, now the word comes back. Working in the field of disinformation raises awareness regarding narratives, some of them rooted in the historical unconscious of the people who use it.

“Let me finish by saying that the European External Action Service will strive to maintain its position as the leading institution collecting, analysing and challenging disinformation, including on the coronavirus…” (Image: archive)

ALDE Baalen condemns China disinformation

The president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party Hans van Baalen issued a statement on China COVID-19 pandemic strategy used for political purposes. Van Baalen position received support of his party members.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, China has been using this public health emergency to deploy a global disinformation campaign. The campaign has targeted mainly Western countries and includes all sorts of disinformation intended to cover up the real number of people infected and build a new story deflecting the origins of the outbreak.

These disinformation hostilities are building distrust in the ability of democratic institutions to deliver effective responses to fight the pandemic.

Last week the European External Action Service (EEAS) published a report documenting narratives and disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic. They used notably soft language towards China following pressure from Chinese officials.

What’s more, China’s censorship machine has taken down any information that the government might consider fake, and many Internet activists and journalists have been detained.

“Renew Europe MEP Bart Groothuis initiated a cross party letter along with other MEPs from the Renew Europe Group to High Representative Josep Borrell, asking for clarification on allegations that the report by the EEAS was diluted at the request of the Chinese Government.

“Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, China and Russia are deploying a global disinformation campaign intended to position themselves as global leaders and undermine the trust on liberal democracies and their institutions.

“The EU needs to be vigilant and respond to these hostilities. The European External Action Service report on narratives and disinformation of COVID-19 is one step forward, however, the recent allegations regarding the softening of the content upon the request of the Chinese government are of deep concern. The EU cannot let an external country to influence in the information shared.

“The EU must find its position in this new global stage and it has all it takes to fight back and lead by example, but unity and cooperation of all member states and stronger liberal institutional powers are needed. The EU can be a leader on the global stage, but it needs to portrait itself as a true Union of liberal democratic states that tackle the crisis collectively, efficiently and transparently.

The fight against COVID-19 is a common fight. Authoritarian regimes that cover up and disguise information cannot be the leading example, but liberal democracies that safeguard civil liberties and share transparent and efficient information“.

COVID19: EU succumbs to China pressure

A report by the European External Action Service (EEAS) looking at the spread of disinformation about the COVID-19 outbreak was, according to unnamed European official, pulled from publication because of concerns about Chinese reaction.

The report, which had already been circulated to member states and leaked to media, was quioted saying that China was undertaking a global campaign to deflect blame for Covid-19 with the aim of improving the country’s international status and said there had been both overt and covert activity.

The EEAS denied a report was due to be published, saying an internal report was leaked.

Analysts underline they have seen a push from Chinese media to emphasise the country’s success and other’s failings in dealing with the virus, along with Russia also adopting the strategy on Western failures and errors.

Beijing’s messaging is believed to reflect fears of the Chinese leaders of a backlash once the crisis is over.

A New York Times report this week also claimed that Chinese “agents” had been pushing misinformation in March about a lockdown in the US.

The initial European Union report, obtained by The New York Times, was not particularly strident: a routine roundup of publicly available information and news reports.

It cited the Chinese leadership efforts to curtail mentions of the virus’s origins in Wuhan, in part by blaming the United States for spreading the disease

It also noted that Beijing had criticized France for its slow response to the pandemic and had pushed false accusations that French politicians used racist slurs against the head of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Ethiopian microbiologist and internationally recognized researcher).

The report also highlighted Russian efforts to circulate false information and sow distrust in Western institutions.

Western officials say China is keen to play up its success in combating the virus and minimise any fallout from its role as the origin of the COVID-19 and early failures to be open about the outbreak.

Image: Chinese “wet” market, source: social media

U.S. calls China to ban wildlife markets

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the United States has called on China to permanently close its wildlife wet markets, citing links between those markets and zoonotic diseases. All together around 200 diseases, listed by World Health Organisation (WHO) incluing COVID-19, Ebola, Zika, plague, rabies, and many others.

https://twitter.com/reuters/status/1253258612299923458?s=21

The new coronavirus is believed to have emerged in a market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. It has spread around the world killing over 180,000 people and infecting over 2.6 million.

https://twitter.com/mothershipsg/status/1253153087608385538?s=21

“Given the strong link between illegal wildlife sold in wet markets and zoonotic diseases, the United States has called on the People’s Republic of China to permanently close its wildlife wet markets and all markets that sell illegal wildlife,” Pompeo said in a statement late on April 22.

Chinese wet markets trade in various animals, including wild or exotic, those have been linked to outbreaks of zoonotic diseases. 

One of many such places has been Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, believed to have played a fatal role in the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, although investigations into whether the virus originated from non-market sources are ongoing as of April 2020. 

Wet markets were banned from holding wildlife in China in 2003, after the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak which was directly tied to those dangerous practices of selling and consuming wildlife. Such regulations were lifted before being put into place again in 2020, with other countries proposing similar bans. The visitors of the markets buy wildlife not only for food, but also for the other types of consumption as manufacturing traditional medicines, which are integral part of modern Chinese culture.

COVID19: EU citizens food safety concerns at rise

BRUSSELS, 15 April 2020 – “In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, we call on EU leaders to urgently steer the EU towards sustainable and resilient food systems. We were one of 40 environmental, health and animal welfare NGOs to send the EU Commission an open letter, urging it to act without any further delays in overhauling its food and farming system. Now more than ever, the EU needs to mitigate the risk of new pandemics and to encourage healthier diets.

“Covid-19 has strikingly brought to light some of the dysfunctions of our current globalised and unsustainable food systems, including the link between the increased emergence of zoonoses and intensive animal farming and the lack of regard for other species which has consequences worldwide.

“Now more than ever, the EU needs to create resilient food systems and diminish the risk of new pandemics.

“The loss of habitat and the exploitation of wildlife through hunting and trade lie at the heart of this latest pandemic. Protecting the environment, restoring biodiversity and making significant reductions in the production and consumption of animal products are urgently needed to bring a true shift towards sustainable food production and humane farming systems. Intensive animal farming, high stocking densities and confining animals in small cages put us all at great risk for the spread of disease. Our societies simply cannot afford another pandemic. We must put an end to intensive farming, now.

“The Farm to Fork Strategy is the way to do it!” Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming.

“During these times of crisis, it has become crystal clear that our diets are particularly inept to deal with major health threats. Diets heavily reliant on animal products are linked to serious health issues. Intensive animal farming is linked to the emergence of superbugs and the development of anti-microbial resistance leading to the inability of our medicines to deal with them efficiently. Let’s mend this broken system. Let’s bring forward a food and farming revolution via the Farm to Fork Strategy. Let’s promote healthier, plant-rich foods!” Kikou added.

COVID19: China disinformation caused deaths

As the country of origin, China initially allowed disinformation to spread as quickly as the virus. Rather than helping other countries prepare a swift and strong response, it is increasingly apparent that they manipulated vital information about the virus in order to protect the regime’s image“, commented the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British Parliament, Tom Tugendhat MP. The Committee has published a Report on Viral Immunity – The FCO’s role in building a coalition against COVID-19.

At present over a million of established cases of coronavirus worldwide are reported by medical instances (1,289820) and more than 70 thousands related deaths (70,624). However the experts warn that the statistics available is not exact, because not all dead received conronovirus port-mortem examinations, subsequently the real numbers could be substantionally higher.

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