EU China row: Furious Verhofstadt promises European Parliament will NEVER ratify deal

China not opening up is ‘concerning’ says Tory MP Tugendhat

The bloc’s China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment was rushed through by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron despite objections from smaller member states. But the deal has yet to be passed by MEPs and Mr Verhofstadt has warned they are unlikely to do so while until China answers global concerns about its alleged human rights abuses.

China is not becoming more open and democratic as a result of international agreements

Guy Verhofstadt

The Belgian politician tweeted: “Arrests again show that China is not becoming more open and democratic as a result of international agreements.

“The European Parliament will never ratify the China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment without commitments and proof that the human rights of Hong Kongers, Uyghurs and Tibetans improve.”

Mr Verhofstadt’s comments came after the deal, signed after a conference call between Ms Merkel, Mr Macron and China’s President Xi Jinping, sparked outrage among British politicians and human rights campaigners.

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Lord Patten, a former Tory party chairman and the last British governor of Hong Kong, called on the EU to scrap the deal after 53 people were arrested for “subversion” in a fresh crackdown on democracy activists in the territory.

Lord Patten warned Brussels it would forfeit its right to be treated as a serious global economic and political power if it went ahead with the investment deal.

In remarks aimed at Germany, which was keen to seal the deal before its six month EU presidency expired, he said: “It is worth remembering, for all European politicians wherever they come from, that the Jewish community around the world has been outspoken about Xinjiang and in particular has drawn attention to the similarities between what is happening in that region today and the Holocaust in the 1940s.

“If this deal goes ahead it will make a mockery of Europe’s ambitions to be taken seriously as a global political and economic player.”

He continued: “It spits in the face of human rights and shows a delusional view of the Chinese Communist party’s trustworthiness on the international stage.

“It is surely inconceivable that the European parliament can support the miserable draft deal that the European Commission wants to sign with Beijing.

“It is a massive strategic blunder at a time when Joe Biden will be seeking to put together an international partnership of liberal democracies to deal with the bullying loutish behaviour and assault on our international rules by Chinese Communists.

“We should not be seeking to contain China but to constrain the Chinese Communist party.”

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the UK foreign affairs select committee, also challenged the EU.

He said: “The EU’s China deal undermines freedom and democracy.”

Officials from Italy, Poland, Belgium and Spain have also criticised the way Germany pushed through the agreement despite their warnings it ignored slave labour concerns in China and risked alienating the incoming White House administration.

Italian foreign affairs minister Ivan Scalfarotto told the Corriere della Sera: “We are giving a positive signal to China at a time of significant human-rights concerns.”

German officials insist they and the Commission consulted with other capitals and that while some raised objections no one held up a “stop sign”.

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Brussels responded by demanding the release of the arrested opposition figures in Hong Kong and said it was considering further sanctions.

European Commission spokesperson Peter Stano said: “We are currently analysing the situation to see how we might need to react.

“There are other possibilities open to us, sanctions for example.

“We call for the immediate release of the arrested people.”

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