Although China has offered the European Union multiple concessions in a landmark investment agreement, it has firmly refused to budge on a make-or-break issue: labour rights.
EU officials now say Beijing’s refusal to ratify International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards on forced labour will make it politically difficult for the European Parliament – whose endorsement is vital to validate the deal – to vote in its favour.
Last week the parliament passed a resolution to condemn Beijing’s practices in Xinjiang, which said any comprehensive agreement with China “must include adequate commitments to respect international conventions against forced labour”.
“The political signal is disastrous. This deal mocks the concentration camps and enslavement of a people,” Raphael Glucksmann, a member of the European Parliament from the centre-left Place Publique party, told Politico. “I will be active in organising opposition to this deal.”