The European Parliament is next week set to vote in favor of taking China to the International Court of Justice over its decision to adopt a controversial national security law in Hong Kong.
In a draft resolution, the Parliament “strongly criticizes the adoption of the national security law on Hong Kong by the National Peoples’ Congress” and “calls for the EU and its Member States, in case the new security law is applied, to consider filing a case before the International Court of Justice, alleging that China’s decision to impose national security legislation on Hong Kong violates the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights].”
The International Court of Justice in The Hague is the United Nations’ highest judicial body.
Lawmakers are scheduled to discuss the issue next Thursday with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and vote on the resolution next Friday. “We intend to show what the EU can do beyond hand-wringing,” said Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer, chair of the Parliament’s delegation for relations with China, who is driving the resolution.
Bütikofer told POLITICO the latest draft had been agreed on Friday morning with members of the European People’s Party, Socialist & Democrats, Renew Europe and the European Conservatives and Reformists, which made him confident that it would get the necessary support in next week’s vote.
EU member countries have so far taken a soft line on China and Borrell stressed Wednesday that “we are not going to be in any kind of Cold War” with Beijing. The European Parliament’s move is mainly political as it doesn’t have the powers it has on, for example, trade agreements, which it can veto.
The proposed text also calls for appointing a U.N. special envoy to monitor the situation in Hong Kong.
“This is a clear signal to Chinese President Xi Jinping but also toward our own leaders,” said Bütikofer. The resolution comes ahead of a videoconference meeting between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang slated for June 22.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a videoconference with Li on Thursday to discuss the situation in Hong Kong among other topics, including COVID-19, according to her spokesperson.
The EU’s approach to China so far contrasts with the line take by Washington. U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in January described the Chinese Communist Party as the “central threat of our times.”
China will be one of the main topics that EU foreign ministers will discuss on Monday in a video meeting with Pompeo, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, the Middle East, Libya and Ukraine, according to a EU diplomat.
The Parliament’s draft resolution also expresses support for Hong Kong’s democracy movement and calls on the region’s authorities “to drop all charges against peaceful protesters and to abandon all repressive measures against Hong Kong citizens exercising their freedom of expression.”
It seeks to deliver a clear warning to Beijing: “The violation of Hong Kong’s high level of autonomy and its freedoms will undermine the international community’s willingness to trust China as a partner and will also put in doubt Hong Kong’s future role as a relevant global financial centre.”