(TibetanReview.net, Feb20’23) – While the European Union (EU) said that it raised a number of general and specific issues in the 38th session of the China-EU Human Rights Dialogue held in Brussels on Feb 17, China has made it clear that it used the occasion to mainly drive home the point that the West should avoid criticizing its record. In particular, it has made it clear that topics like the human rights situation in Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong should not even be brought up.
Chinese observers believe that the resumption of the dialogue, coming after bilateral ties became icy since Mar 2021, is of great necessity and will serve as an effective measure to rectify the malicious trend of politicizing human rights-related issues, the practices of double standards, and the use of human rights as a tool for rivalry, reported China’s official globaltimes.cn Feb 19.
The dialogue was co-chaired by Sun Lei, Deputy Director General for International Organizations and Conferences at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Paola Pampaloni, Deputy Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific in the European External Action Service.
The report cited Sun as having stressed that “matters related to China’s Xinjiang and Xizang (Tibet) regions and affairs related to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, should not be categorized as human rights issues, instead they are major issues of principle that are related to China’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, with no external interference allowed.”
The report also cited China’s Foreign Ministry as saying, “the EU is requested during dialogue to pay serious attention to China’s concerns, and be cautious in words and deeds on issues involving China’s core interests and major concerns. “
During the dialogue, China has stopped short of saying explicitly its long-standing position that it does not recognize civil and political rights as basic human rights for its people and others under its rule. The report said that “China … shared its vision of human rights which is people-centered and views that the rights of survival and development are prioritized as basic human rights.”
The China-EU Human Rights Dialogue that started in 1997 and was held twice a year has been stalled since a session in Apr 2019, following EU’s sanctions and China’s countermeasures over human rights issues related to the genocidal situation in Xinjiang. The decision to resume the dialogue was taken at the China-EU Summit in Apr 2022, the report noted.