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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

EU: China Summit Needs Rights Focus

May 21, 2009

Human Rights Watch (HRW)
May 19, 2009

For Immediate Release
EU: China Summit Needs Rights Focus

New York, May 19, 2009 -- As the European Union
(EU) and China prepare for their semi-annual
summit in Prague on May 20, 2009, Human Rights
Watch called on European leaders to press China
to respect its international human rights obligations.

The summit, the first since Beijing abruptly
called off the planned December 2008 gathering in
France as part of an offensive to dissuade
European leaders from meeting with the Dalai
Lama, will be held under the framework of the
Czech presidency of the Council of the European
Union. The delegation of the People’s Republic of
China will be led by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

"The EU would be mistaken to let business and
trade interests trump human rights," said Sophie
Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human
Rights Watch. "Without the rule of law and
respect for fundamental rights China simply
cannot become a better partner for the EU."

Although the EU holds regular human rights
dialogues with China, including one in Prague on
May 14, those discussions have consistently
failed to deliver any concrete result since they began over a decade ago.

"The human rights dialogues increasingly serve as
a pretext to segregate human rights concerns away
from high level talks such as the present summit," said Richardson.

Human Rights Watch pointed out that since the
last EU-China summit the human rights situation
in China has markedly worsened in several key respects, including:

* In Tibet, where hundreds of detainees are still
unaccounted for, and which is still not freely
accessible to media and visitors;

* The ongoing detention of one of China’s most
prominent dissidents, Liu Xiaobo, for his role in
drafting an appeal for human rights and democracy, Charter 08; and

* The harassment of the families of school
children who died during the Sichuan earthquake
in May 2008, many of whom are demanding an
official inquiry into the buildings’ deficiencies.

As the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre
nears, Human Rights Watch also called on the EU
to stand firm on the arms embargo put in place
shortly after the bold crackdown on students and
demonstrators during the night of June 3 to 4, 1989.

"China still refuses to acknowledge that it did
anything wrong by turning the army against its
own people in 1989," said Richardson. "Until this
happens, the embargo should stay."
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