In a surprising announcement, the European Union has placed sanctions on China on Tuesday after Beijing imposed a new security law in Hong Kong that undermined the city's residents' political freedom.
The decision suggests the bloc is moving closer to a similar stance that the United States has taken against China.
EU sanctions China
According to the Wall Street Journal, the sanctions include limiting China's equipment exports that it could potentially use to repress its citizens. The UK is also reassessing extradition arrangements due to the new security law passed in Hong Kong that seemingly imposes harsh punishments for the Chinese government's opposition.
The UK had recently parted ways with the EU earlier this year and had suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong. The EU governments are currently discussing ways to increase the accessibility of visa and asylum to Hong Kong citizens and had announced it could potentially take further measures by the end of the year.
The Chinese government, however, had reacted violently to the decision of the UK. A Chinese mission spokesman to the EU told the bloc to immediately stop interfering with Hong Kong and China's domestic affairs.
The spokesman continued to state that Hong Kong citizens knew best what was good for their city and noted that the vast majority of the residents supported the new security law. He stated China was firmly standing against the EU's discrimination decision that Beijing considered a misrepresentation of the country.
The passing of the new security law in Hong Kong has caused several countries in the West to reassess their relationship with the city, citing it would become increasingly difficult to guarantee the rule of law, as reported by Deutsche Welle.
Spearheaded by Germany and France, the EU took its initiative against China as Heiko Maas, Germany's Foreign Minister, stated on Tuesday that member states will respond to Beiwould's disregard of Hong Kong's autonomy.
A statement by the German Foreign Ministry said Germany would immediately halt its exports of military equipment to Hong Kong, including particularly sensitive dual-use goods. The country would also treat the city with the same stance as the mainland.
Interference in domestic affairs
However, the Chinese mission urged international rivals to respect China's position and method of maintaining the safety and security of its citizens in Hong Kong, as reported by CGTN.
Last year, the EU labeled China as its systemic rival and had since tightened its screening of investments made by the Asian country. Brussels had previously cautioned Beijing that if the investment agreement were not maintained, the EU would not sign new economic agreements.
An official of the EU said Beijing was overconfident and misplayed its hand. The official noted that China's aggressiveness over Hong Kong helped convince those who were not previously convinced within the union.
Several European officials expressed their continued hopes of being neutral between the United States and China. However, more and more officials are warning that Beijing is capitalizing on the EU's openness to further its own agenda.