BEIJING (Reuters) -Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi said on Tuesday that attempts by some in the EU to politicise trade issues are “not acceptable and will lead nowhere,” and that Beijing had been shocked when Brussels placed sanctions on Chinese officials.
Wang, who is also foreign minister, made the remarks less than a week after the EU halted ratification of an investment pact with China until Beijing lifts its own sanctions on EU politicians.
China’s retaliatory sanctions came after Brussels in March blacklisted Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang, which Beijing denies.
The investment pact was not a “one-sided favour” and stoking political confrontation and economic decoupling does not serve the EU’s interests, Wang said at a talk hosted by the Munich Security Conference.
China remains ready to expand cooperation with Europe, based on mutual respect, he added.
“It has never come to our mind that the EU will put sanctions on us,” Wang said, questioning how a strategic partner could take such action.
The sanctions reminded Chinese people “of the days when they were bullied by European imperialists,” Wang said.
“And as the Chinese government, we have our sovereignty to uphold. We have our national dignity to uphold … We have to push back falsehoods and disinformation,” he added, explaining why China hit back.
“China is a trustworthy partner of all countries, not a systemic rival locked in confrontation,” Wang said.
(Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; writing by Tom Daly; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Giles Elgood)