Why China imports row is causing EU major problems over trade ban

China's regime 'feels threatened internally' says expert

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Despite condemnation by European Union (EU) politicians over China’s persecution of Uyghur Muslims, few seem keen to step up and take action against China fearing the wrath of Chinese President Xi Jinping. The EU’s reluctance to take action is now threatening to divide politicians in Brussels.

Despite European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s promise last month to ban goods made with forced labour, the EU has taken few steps to stop imports made by persecuted Uyghur Muslims in China.

EU officials have been indecisive over which department should tackle this problem.

Meanwhile, the US has already taken action against China, barring all goods from Xinjiang, a region in western China where President Xi Jinping has launched a crackdown against its Muslim minority.

The EU has condemned the persecution of Uyghur Muslims in China, but so far they have taken few steps to punish China for its actions.

Politicians in Brussels are torn over how to act, some favour a full-blown trade ban on goods from the Xinjiang region in line with US President Joe Biden’s actions.

But others, no doubt fearing the wrath of President Xi Jinping, would prefer a softer alternative.

A less aggressive measure would be to use due diligence rules to punish China.

This would effectively target companies putting pressure on business and national corporate regulators as opposed to enforcers at the European Commission and EU Customs.

MEP Raphaël Glucksmann has run a popular social media campaign pushing for a full EU ban on imports from Xinjiang.

She has blasted the idea of using due diligence rules against China.

She told Politico: “I cannot say strongly enough how opposed I am to the idea of adding the ban to the due diligence directive.”

She added: “Due diligence focuses on companies; the ban focuses on products and has to be enforced as a trade regulation.”

Ms Glucksmann claims taking such steps would show that the EU is simply passing on the responsibility of condemning China.

A full trade ban would need to be taken on by the EU’s trade department, who, so far, have been reluctant to take on the responsibility of this issue.

The EU’s trade policy strategy published in February insists that the upcoming proposals on due diligence would include “effective action” to “ensure that forced labour does not find a place in the value chains of EU companies.”

But so far the export ban has not been seriously taken up by the trade department.

The fear is that if the issue is pushed into the realms of due diligence that it may be kicked into the long grass completely.

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