European Union has drawn 3 red lines in dealing with China: Portuguese foreign minister

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New Delhi, Jun 23 (PTI) The European Union has drawn three clear redlines while dealing with China which are --not to accept human rights violations in Xinjiang province, squeezing of the democratic space in Hong Kong and any change in the status quo in the South China Sea, Portuguese foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva said on Wednesday.

Portugal currently holds the presidency of the 27-nation European Union, considered as one of the most powerful groupings globally.

Speaking at a virtual conference alongside External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Silva said India has been a key partner of the EU in Asia from the perspective of the political relationship, and cited liberal democratic traditions of both sides.

To a question on geopolitics against the backdrop of rise of China and a new administration taking charge in the US, Jaishankar said the rise of the neighbouring country is one of the defining 'transformational trends'.

'There is no question that, especially in the last 10 years, but I would argue in the last 25 years, that the rise of China is one of the defining, shall I say, transformational trends,' he said.

'So, it is something everybody would take into account. It is very very natural in terms of what has been the role of the US, specifically the Biden administration. It is interesting. I would say certainly the Biden administration seems to be very open to the assessment that the world is indeed multipolar and it has a much more contemporary agenda,' Jaishankar said.

Jaishankar also said that India's relations with the US have moved forward in the last six months.

Describing the European Union's relations with China as 'complex and multifaceted', Silva said the bloc has been a close partner of the country in certain areas including climate change.

He said the EU has drawn 'three red lines' in dealing with China.

'We cannot be silent when there is violation of human rights for example in Xinjiang province and we denounce it. Secondly, we cannot accept the squeezing of the democratic space in Hong Kong. And we could not accept any change in the current status quo in the South China Sea and in relation to Taiwan,' he said.

'We have to be very cautious, prudent and at the same time very firm,' Silva said, replying to a question at the discussion organised by the Observer Research Foundation.

China has been facing mounting criticism from the international community over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province. Human rights groups believe China has arbitrarily detained close to a million Uyghurs in camps in the name of combating religious extremism.

The Chinese government's brutal crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong has also triggered concerns and criticism globally. There have also been rising concerns over China's military expansionism in the South China Sea.

Explaining NATO's perspective on the issue, Silva said the rise of China has opened some opportunities but at the same time it poses a security challenge that needs to be addressed.

'We are not seeing China as a threat but we are seeing the rise of China as a challenge and a security challenge. So we have to move carefully and we have to look at it together...We have to look carefully and cautiously because security matters were always tricky issues but we have to address this new reality,' he said. PTI MPB PYK PYK

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