China urges European Union to ‘act prudently’ on Russia sanctions

‘China firmly opposes unilateral sanctions that have no basis in international law,’ says Beijing spokeswoman

China has called on the European Union to “act prudently” when considering a new package of sanctions against Russia that could curb trade with Beijing.

The commerce ministry said it would follow closely the discussions among EU member states about a European Commission proposal that could introduce trade restrictions against countries that bypass sanctions imposed on Russia.

“China firmly opposes unilateral sanctions that have no basis in international law and are not authorised by the Security Council as well as long-arm jurisdiction,” spokeswoman Shu Jueting said.

‘Investment screening’

China’s warning about the proposed sanctions package, which will need the unanimous approval of all 27 member states, came as US secretary of state Antony Blinken said Washington and Brussels were increasingly in agreement on China.


“The word that comes to mind most is convergence. Together we’ve been working on things like investment screening mechanisms, on co-ordinating, on export controls, on working, as I said, on diversifying supply chains, on dealing with some of non-market practices that we see,” he said.

“But we start from exactly the same approach, which is that none of us are looking for confrontation, none of us are looking for a cold war, and none of us are looking for decoupling. On the contrary, we all benefit from trade and investment with China. But, as opposed to decoupling, we are focused on de-risking. And you’ve heard the same language coming from leaders on both sides of the Atlantic — that is, being very clear-eyed about some of the challenges the relationship poses.”

Mr Blinken was speaking in the Swedish city of Lulea after a meeting of the EU-US trade and technology council, a forum established two years ago. EU competition commissioner Margarethe Vestager and trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis also attended the meeting, along with US commerce secretary Gina Raimondo and US trade representative Katherine Tai.

The meeting was dominated by regulatory issues surrounding artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies. But in a joint statement, the council expressed concern about China’s exclusion of foreign firms from the medical devices sector and other “non-market policies”.

‘Russian disinformation’

The statement also expressed concern about economic coercion in an apparent reference to China’s economic targeting of foreign firms and governments for political reasons. And it expressed deep concern about China’s “amplification of Russian disinformation narratives about the war” in Ukraine which it said was influencing opinion in Africa and Latin America.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning rejected the criticism, saying the US and the EU were guilty of the practices they accused China of.

“China is a victim of disinformation and we also pay high attention to non-market economic practices. If the US and the EU are concerned about this issue, it is suggested they take actions themselves and first of all, stop undertaking unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdictions in the name of national security, stop implementing discriminatory and differential industrial supporting policies, and stop hobbling other countries’ companies,” she said.

“The world economy is under downward pressure. As major economies, the US and the EU need to take responsibility, play a positive role and provide an open, inclusive, transparent and non-discriminatory environment for international trade and investment.”

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times