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MEPs set to call for EU's investment deal with China to be frozen

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The lawmakers want the Commission to use any further discussions on the deal as leverage to improve China's human rights record
The lawmakers want the Commission to use any further discussions on the deal as leverage to improve China's human rights record   -   Copyright  AFP
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MEPs are expected to vote on Thursday for the EU's controversial investment deal with China to be formally frozen.

It was hoped the agreement -- seven years in the making -- would open up the Chinese market to European countries.

But the deal, agreed in principle last December, has yet to receive the necessary endorsement from EU institutions.

That comes amid worsening relations between Brussels and Beijing.

In March, the European Union imposed its first sanctions against China in more than 30 years. The raft of measures targeted four Chinese officials and one entity believed to be involved in the alleged human rights violations of the Uyghur Muslim minority.

China responded by slapping sanctions on ten European individuals, including five MEPs.

One of them was German politician Reinhard Bütikofer. He told Euronews there are multiple reasons to oppose the substance of the investment deal.

"When you look at the substance, there are issues it's not really addressing like forced labour - the application of forced labour in China," he said. "It doesn't give a very strong conflict resolution mechanism. So if China fails to implement the provisions of the deal, the instruments that we have to force them to live by are extremely weak."

Last week the European Commission said it was suspending efforts to ratify the investment deal.