Saturday

23rd Feb 2019

Focus

China keen to scale down EU human rights talks

  • Wang: 'We don't believe anybody should be a 'teacher' ... We do not yield to pressure' (Photo: Stefan)

China wants to hold human rights talks with the EU just once a year and to curtail discussion of individual cases.

Wang Xining, the Chinese EU embassy's spokesman, told EUobserver the meetings should take place "maybe once a year and not twice."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The behind-closed-doors talks of mid-level diplomats have been going on for 16 years. In 2010 and 2011, China declined to hold a second meeting. The last one took place on 29 May in Brussels. But the second 2012 talks have not been tabled yet.

Wang added the EU should ask fewer questions about individual victims.

"We look forward to more system-building and policy-making that would improve and protect human rights on a general level ... But in my view, maybe we spend too much time and energy on the individual cases," he said.

He also indicated the EU should soften its tone.

"We listen to the EU, but also to the US, to people from developing countries. We follow good examples and we are determined to improve human rights. But we don't believe anybody should be a 'teacher' ... We do not yield to pressure," he said.

For her part, Maja Kocjiancic, the spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said: "We are very much keen to see the dialogue happen twice a year."

"We reserve the right to address individual cases. We have always done so and this is not going to change ... It is not easy to engage China on this issue but our approach is very clear," she added.

At the 29 May event, the EU handed over its usual list of questions on specific people and received replies from China about 25 individuals mentioned in last year's talks.

Leading NGO Human Rights Watch says the dialogues in any case amount to a pretence the EU is doing something on values while its real focus is trade.

But EU diplomats claim they have in the past led to better medical care for prisoners and to early releases.

Ashton herself in the European Parliament on Tuesday (12 June) spoke out on China's prickliest subject - Tibet.

The Tibetan government in exile says 38 people have set themselves on fire since 2009 in reaction to repression and that "hundreds" were recently detained in Lhasa in a new crackdown.

China says Tibet's leader in exile, the Dalai Lama - whom it calls "a savage" - brainwashes monks into committing suicide to stir unrest.

Ashton took the Tibetan side.

She attributed the self-immolations to "the deterioration of the situation in Tibet."

She urged Beijing to let "foreign diplomats and journalists" have full access and to restart talks with Dalai Lama envoys on Tibetan autonomy.

In an aside on China's forced resettlement of Tibetan nomads in the name of environmentalism, she added: "The EU questions whether the objective of environmental protection can only be reached by eliminating the traditional way of life of Tibetans who have lived in harmony with nature for centuries."

Activists question value of EU-China rights talks

EU diplomats are asking sensitive questions about Tibet and disappeared persons. But critics say that after 16 years of low-profile human rights talks, China is more repressive than when the process began.

China urges Germany and France to solve euro-crisis

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on Thursday offered vague promises to buy bonds from troubled euro-countries, but said that it is ultimately up to Germany and France to solve the crisis.

News in Brief

  1. May to meet Tusk on Sunday at Arab summit
  2. Report: Russia offered Italy's Salvini €3m for EU election
  3. EU and US could 'quickly' clinch mini-trade pact
  4. Belgium to gather evidence on Syria 'foreign fighters'
  5. Dozens of Tory and Labour MPs threatening to quit over Brexit
  6. UK will struggle on free-trade deals, EU says
  7. Juncker pledges climate action alongside Swedish activist
  8. Swedbank brings in external help on money laundering revelations

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Brexit and Orban in spotlight This WEEK
  2. Swedish activist urges EU to double climate goals
  3. EP budget chair seeks clarity on Saudi lobbying and College of Europe
  4. Microsoft warns EU on election hack threat
  5. Brexit talks to continue after May-Juncker meeting
  6. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  7. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  8. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us