04:41 GMT20 June 2021
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    Earlier this year, Beijing imposed sanctions on five European MPs in a tit-for-tat move after the 27-member bloc greenlighted restrictions on the Chinese officials allegedly in charge of running purported internment camps in China’s Xinjiang.

    The European Parliament has decided to freeze ratification of an investment agreement with China until Beijing removes sanctions on European lawmakers, including five members of the EU assembly and its human rights committee. The resolution was passed with 599 votes in favour.

    "The EU cannot both take the high moral ground and nonetheless go ahead with this deal when EU entities and elected MEPs and MPs are under sanctions solely for defending human rights", Belgian MEP Hilde Vautmans was cited by AFP as saying.

    According to the resolution, the lawmakers also warned that the lifting of sanctions itself would not end in China and the EU ratifying the deal.

    The investment agreement between China and the EU, also known as the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, followed seven years of negotiations. In December 2020, the European Union announced that the parties had concluded negotiations in principle, thus committing to create a better balance in the EU-China trade relationship and allow a greater level of market access for both European and Chinese investors.

    Despite reaching a preliminary agreement on trade issues, the parties have since been deadlocked over Xinjinag-related matters. In March 2020, the European Union imposed its first significant sanctions against Chinese officials since 1989 over alleged human rights abuses in China's Xinjiang region. Beijing, for its part, hit back by imposing retaliatory sanctions.

    Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, Uyghurs, sanctions, China, EU
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