Friday

3rd Jul 2020

China arrests of European activists is 'worrying trend'

The EU envoy to China expressed "deep concern" on Wednesday (20 January) about the treatment of EU nationals involved in human rights activities in China.

China's crackdown on human right activists, lawyers and journalists has intensified recently and even EU citizens are now targeted.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Swedish activist Peter Dahlin on Chinese TV. 'We do hope it's not representing the new normal,' an EU envoy said

"We do see an extremely worrying trend," Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, the EU ambassador to China, told reporters in Beijing.

On Tuesday Peter Dahlin, a Swedish co-founder of the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group, a humans rights NGO, appeared on Chinese CCTV channel and confessed "he violated China's law through [his] activity here".

In a show reminiscent of Maoist forced self-criticism, 35-year old Dahlin went on to say: "I have hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. I apologise sincerely for this and I am very sorry that this ever happened."

Chinese authorities had earlier said they had "smashed an illegal organisation that sponsored activities jeopardising China's national security", according to the official news agency Xinhua.

'Voluntary' surrenders

Dahlin and another activist were accused of operating illegally and receiving "unregulated huge sums of money" from abroad.

Dahlin's TV appearance comes two days after another Swedish national was also seen confessing his "crime".

Gui Minhai, a 51-year-old Hong Kong publisher of books critical of the Chinese government, vanished in October during a holiday in Thailand.

Gui, who was born in China but has Swedish citizenship, was shown on Sunday on CCTV claiming he had handed himself to police in October for his involvement in a hit and run accident in 2003.

“It is my own choice to come back and to confess my crime. It is nobody else’s business," he said.

Another Hong Kong publisher, British citizen Lee Bo, also disappeared in October. Hong Kong authorities said last week he was in China after a "voluntary" surrender to the police.

In December, the correspondent for the French weekly L'Obs, Ursula Gauthier, was expelled for writing articles about terrorism in the Xinjiang province.

“Gauthier failed to apologise to the Chinese people for her wrong words and it is no longer suitable for her to work in China,” a Chinese spokesman said at the time.

'New normal'?

"Clearly, I cannot but once again say that we are deeply concerned about all those issues,” EU ambassador Schweisgut said on Wednesday.

“We do hope it’s not representing the new normal yet … all these cases are taken extremely seriously,” he said.

Schweisgut added that the EU wanted to be able to "solve those issues in the framework of human rights dialogues".

“We have come out very clearly as a question of principle, and we will continue to do so. This is something where we will never be willing and able to compromise our values," he said.

Divided EU debates China market economy status

The EU Commission will, on Wednesday, debate the sensitive issue of China “market economy status,” with nerves jangling in European industry over cheap Chinese goods.

China, Russia and the EU's intermarium bloc

China's engagement with plans by some former Iron Curtain states to revive the 1920s-era "Intermarium" project has the power to hurt Russian geopolitical interests.

Stakeholder

China is making good stories not bad ones

China has been reforming, improving and transforming, making "good stories" for the benefit of its 1.3 billion people and the common good of humanity.

Eminent women appeal for EU help on Palestine

West Bank annexation "was conceived almost entirely by men" and will crush the "dignity and rights" of Palestinian women still further, a group of 40 women leaders have said.

News in Brief

  1. French prime minister and government resign
  2. France lied on Nato naval clash, Turkey claims
  3. EU highlights abuses in recent Russia vote
  4. Belgium bids to host EU mask stockpile
  5. France shamed on refugees by European court
  6. French and Dutch police take down criminal phone network
  7. EU launches infringement case on Covid-19 cancelled trips
  8. Michel to propose smaller EU budget, keep recovery figure

New Cairo activist case prompts wave of Italy demos

Four years after the killing of an Italian activist in Cairo, Italian cities are mobilising to highlight the fate of Patrick Zaki, imprisoned since February for "inciting protest through his Facebook profile".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us