China and the European Union should “lift sanctions simultaneously” to allow a frozen bilateral investment deal to move ahead, according to Beijing’s new ambassador to the EU . At an event hosted by the European Policy Centre in Brussels on Wednesday, Fu Cong said the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) – an in-principle deal reached in December 2020 between China and the EU – was a result of great flexibility on both sides, and could help the international economy recover. “We know that the world economy is not going through a very good time, and some European businesspeople have some complaints about the access to the Chinese market,” Fu said. “But actually, this agreement is just to solve all these concerns, especially given the current circumstances. “It is so important that when all economies are trying their best to use all leverage to actually raise up the economy. And this useful instrument is laying there in limbo.” The CAI was meant to give European firms greater access to China’s market but it has still not been ratified by either side. Discussion on the deal was halted by the European Parliament in May 2021 after Beijing imposed sanctions on European individuals and entities in retaliation for similar EU action over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang , accusations that Beijing denies. Fu said China did not want to go back to argue who was right and who was wrong in imposing sanctions, because that would be “a futile debate with no result”. “So what we think is that we need to look ahead. One way is to lift the sanctions simultaneously,” Fu said. “We don’t need to go back to the origin. We are also practical. We say that, if for whatever reason, lifting the sanctions simultaneously may not fly, then we are also open to other initiatives. We are actually listening to initiatives from the EU side.” He said the CAI was a result of seven years of hard negotiation between the two sides, in which both showed great flexibility. “That point needs to be borne in mind: it’s not as if one side was doing a favour to the other,” he said. “You can’t pick and choose from the agreement what is only good for you, while ignoring, disregarding those provisions that actually serve our interests.” He added that China had returned to the world stage since December when Beijing scrapped its zero-Covid policy and lifted restrictions on the movement of people. He also said that one of the biggest takeaways from the Communist Party’s national congress in October was that China would stick to its policy of reform and opening up and its approach to the market economy. “This should be good news for the world economy. We encourage foreign investors to come back to the Chinese market,” Fu said. The South China Morning Post reported earlier that China and EU will relaunch a human rights dialogue that was also stalled after the tit-for-tat sanctions were imposed in 2021. EU sources confirmed that talks would take place in Brussels at the end of next week.