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8 June 2021

China made a ‘huge strategic blunder’ in retaliating against Europe - former U.S. negotiator

CNBC reports that former top White House trade negotiator Clete Willems said that China made a “huge strategic blunder” when it retaliated against Europe by imposing sanctions on EU politicians. 

Beijing’s actions killed a major investment agreement between the European Union and China, and the deal is “off the table now,” Willems told.

In March, China imposed sanctions on 10 European Union politicians and four other entities. They came as an immediate retaliation for sanctions the EU imposed on China for “arbitrary detentions” of members of an ethnic minority in China.

The European Parliament last month paused the ratification of a new investment pact with China until Beijing lifts sanctions on the EU. 

“It does show that with China, it’s overreaching and overreacting and not addressing legitimate issues like forced labor,” Willems, a former deputy director of the National Economic Council, told.

The EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment had been in the works for seven years and was finally agreed by negotiators in December. It would have put EU companies on an equal footing in China and cement Beijing’s status as a trusted trading partner. It would also have given each party’s businesses greater access to the other’s markets.

“The question that the U.S. always had with Europe though, is they are much more dependent on China as an export market — and so the question is how tough will they really be,” Willems pointed out.

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