China violated an international agreement (with Great Britain) by enacting the “Security Act” for Hong Kong. For this reason alone, everything related to Hong Kong is not an exclusively “internal affair” of China, even if Beijing claims it. And of course the European Union is allowed to react to the breach of a contract.

Even the Chinese government, which is now reacting with anticipated outrage, cannot claim that the countermeasures decided by the EU are particularly painful. But Beijing is no longer about that. Contradictions, however moderate they may be, are no longer tolerated in Xi Jinping’s world.

The export bans for surveillance technology and the other small measures are probably all the EU can agree on. Now the Member States should try to at least really put that into practice. The EU’s steps can be considered weak with good arguments.

But first, little is still better than nothing. Secondly, it is sometimes simply important to show powers like China, with more or less symbolic measures, that you do not agree with what is being done there. There may even be politicians in China who do not see the only sensible way for their country in unconditional confrontation with the rest of the world.

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