The FDP calls for the renegotiation of the controversial investment agreement between the European Union and China (CAI). “We are convinced that the agreement must be refined in the areas of the rule of law, the dismantling of distortions of competition, market access and human rights,” says a document by the FDP parliamentary group available to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The Liberals accuse both the European Commission and the German government of rushing towards a contract late last year. “The result is an immature treaty text with significant deficits in terms of content, which for this reason has little chance of being ratified by the European Parliament,” the newspaper said. In particular, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) called for the signing at the end of the German presidency of the Council of the EU. Ratification of the deal has been delayed since May due to Chinese sanctions, which also affect five MEPs.
The demand for a stricter approach from Beijing is coming more and more from the Bundestag, not only from those responsible for human rights or foreign policy, but also those responsible for economic policy. The FDP’s decision was taken on the initiative of parliamentary group spokesperson for human rights policy, Gyde Jensen, and FDP economic politician, Sandra Weeser. Associations such as the Federation of German Industries (BDI) have been warning against naivety for some time. In 2019, the BDI released a document calling for China to be seen not only as a partner, but also as a “systemic competitor”.
The central problem in China is the lack of rule of law
“The economic boom of state-capitalist China means that free and rules-based trade is no longer sufficiently guaranteed for much of world trade – as has been the case in recent decades,” warns the FDP in its resolution. The main problem for European companies in the Chinese market is the lack of rule of law. “In China, neither domestic nor foreign citizens, businesses and investors can count on independent protection under the rule of law,” he criticized. An independent investment protection mechanism, which has been recklessly excluded from the negotiations, is therefore essential.
The liberals criticize the opening of the market promised by China as insufficient. There are “formal concessions” here. However, it is “highly doubtful that these paper commitments without a legal enforcement mechanism will ever become relevant to actual market events in China.” The European Commission must also push for provisions on protection against forced labor and the review of crimes against humanity. In addition, the independence of non-profit organizations must be protected. The provision that such organizations in China can only be run by Chinese citizens should be removed. German trade associations are also concerned.