May 31, 2023
BRUSSELS – Country will respond strongly to action on entities without solid proof: Envoy
China’s top diplomat to the European Union said that Beijing will respond strongly to any EU sanctions on Chinese entities for alleged circumvention of EU sanctions on Russia without providing any solid evidence.
Fu Cong, head of the Chinese Mission to the EU, made this remark during an interview with the New Statesman on May 24, which was published on Sunday, at a time when the EU is weighing its 11th round of sanctions on Russia which will focus on tackling the issue of “third” countries circumventing existing sanctions.
News reports suggest that the names of eight Chinese companies are in an EU draft document for alleged circumvention of sanctions.
Fu said that China has not provided any military equipment to Russia, and China has exercised extreme caution when it comes to dual-use items.
“At the same time, China maintains normal economic relations and cooperation with Russia. So these normal economic cooperation and activities should not be interfered with, and they should not be the reason for any coercive measures from any side, either from the US or the European side.”
China is against unilateral sanctions without the basis of international law or the authorization of the United Nations Security Council resolutions, said Fu, a career diplomat who assumed the current job in December.
“In particular, we are firmly against the extraterritorial jurisdiction of all these measures.”
The EU has long opposed extraterritorial sanctions, arguing such sanctions are against international laws and violating nations’ sovereignty and independence. The EU formulated the Blocking Statute law in 1996 to forbid EU operators from complying with extraterritorial sanctions. It also protested against and resisted US sanctions on EU companies after then-US president Donald Trump’s administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 to reimpose sanctions.
Fu said he is very sad that the EU is copying what the US has been doing in the past years, adding that it is in violation of the EU’s own position against extraterritorial application of national sanctions.
He voiced China’s deep concerns about such change in the EU.
“Let me be very clear: If the European side imposes sanctions on Chinese companies without providing us with any solid evidence to show that these companies are engaged in activities that may circumvent or have circumvented EU sanctions on Russia, then we certainly will retaliate.”
He emphasized that China wants to resolve the issue in an amicable way and that the EU should show evidence if it has any, adding the EU should not apply any new law to business deals that were conducted before the law was made.
“That is the basic principle of the rule of law, right? So that’s why we say that we need to talk about this. But unfortunately, we have approached the EU side, and we have not been given any clear explanation,” Fu said.
“One thing they did tell us was that they did not have solid evidence that those companies had re-exported the items they had imported from the EU companies to Russia.”
If the EU goes ahead with the sanctions on Chinese companies despite China’s efforts to resolve the issue in an amicable way, there will be strong responses from China, Fu said.
“Frankly speaking, again, it will not be good for either side, and we do not want to see this happen.”
The EU has been discussing the 11th sanction package since early May. So far, Hungary and Greece have voiced their opposition to the package, citing Ukraine’s listing of some of their private companies as “international war sponsors”. A unanimous agreement is required from the 27 members before it can go ahead with the sanction package.