Chinese and European Union leaders agreed on Wednesday to make it easier for companies to operate on each other’s territory, a significant geopolitical victory for China when criticism of its human rights record and handling of the pandemic have left it increasingly isolated.
A large faction in the European Parliament, which must ratify the agreement before it can take effect, opposes the accord on the grounds that it does not do enough to stop human rights abuses in China.
In addition, a top aide to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has signaled that the incoming administration is not happy with the deal.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has made the agreement a priority because of its importance to German carmakers and other manufacturers with large operations in China.
This year, China edged out the United States as the European Union’s largest trading partner, with 480 billion euros, or $590 billion, in two-way trade through October.