The European Union came under mounting pressure to slow down its push for a major investment deal with China, as opposition grew to any agreement with Beijing that fails to tackle forced labor.

Jake Sullivan, national security adviser to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, weighed in with a tweet late on Monday referencing a story on the proposed EU-China accord. He urged "early consultation with our European partners on our common concerns about China’s economic practices.”

The EU wants the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment to open up China’s market and eliminate discriminatory practices, but critics say that it would in turn reward Beijing with preferential access to European markets despite moves to crush dissent in places from Hong Kong to Xinjiang. A deal would be a "symbolic victory” for China, and could make it harder to forge transatlantic unity on China, according to Mikko Huotari, director of the Mercator Institute for China studies in Berlin.