Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

European Parliament's China vote is misleading

By Fu Jing ( Updated: 2016-05-13 20:45
European Parliament's China vote is misleading

On Thursday, the European Parliament passed a resolution that isn't legally binding, refusing to treat China as a market economy.

Many say it is a "landslide" denial from European Parliament, where 651 out of the 751 members were present in Strasburg, France, where the costly monthly sessions of parliament are held.

For those attending Thursday's session, 546 voted against treating China as market economy while only voting 28 members were in favor, with 77 abstentions.

The result is intended to help the European Commission, the EU's executive body, to take a final decision, but the voting results are not convincing at all.

First of all, trade rules, anti-dumping and cost calculations are extremely technical and to some extent, most European Parliament members are no differences of those passers-by on the streets in terms of knowledge preparation.

They are prone to be influenced by biased reports (bear in mind one of the widely-circulated reports on this topic is from a think tank based in the US) and with the probability that many of them haven't ever set foot in China, they don't know in reality how sophisticated the economy there is, or that market-oriented reform is still going on.

Secondly, European businesses, especially those investing and trading in China won't agree with the parliamentarians who voted against MES for China.

Of course, some biased European businesses chambers in China, which are in the habit of putting pressure on the Chinese government, despite how much profits their members have earned in China, will be happy about the voting.

Statistics have indicated that more than 80 per cent of European businesses in China are profitable. If China is not a market economy, how are those European investors growing in the increasingly sophisticated market environment there, and indeed survive with such profit margins?

Thirdly, the voting results do not have to be accepted by the member states and other countries in the world. Although there are no official figures, more than half of countries in European Union including Nordic countries, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Luxemburg and those from central and east Europe are prepared to recognize Beijing's market economy status.

This means if the decision is made on a one-country-one-vote basis, the result will be, for sure, far from that achieved on Thursday. By the way, out of 751 members, 100 members were absent from the voting. Why?

What's more, up to 100 members of World Trade Organization have recognized China's market economy status. Is European Union's criteria is even higher than that of Austria and New Zealand? Or Switzerland?

To be honest, the European Union is a fragmented market which needs harmonizing rules, while different member states enjoy various degrees sophistication of market economy. Obviously, China needs radical market-oriented reforms.

Both sides should admit each other's strengths and weakness while holding constructive, visionary and forward-looking attitudes.

More opportunities will occur as China continues to open up, instead of closing doors and imposing protectionism.

All in all, the voting results are misleading and unconvincing. And if they improperly being taken as a key part of decision making, European institutions may make further mistakes while it has already waged a campaign against China in trade.

Simply put, China holds the cards.

The author is deputy editor of China Daily European Weekly. To contact the writer:


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