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Sunday, July 14th, 2024

EU raises human rights concerns with China in 39th dialogue session

The EU reiterated its persistent concerns regarding fundamental freedoms, labour rights, judicial independence and forced labour in China during the 39th session of the Joint Human Rights Dialogue held in Chongqing.

The session was held on 16 June, followed by a visit to Tibet from 13-15 June.

In the press release, the EU expressed concern over restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly and religion in Tibet. It also highlighted issues of equality and freedom from discrimination, including women’s and LGBT rights.

The EU reiterated its clear opposition to the death penalty and urged China to ban it and provide transparent data on its use.

It stressed that religious leaders should be selected without government interference and respecting religious norms, especially in the case of the succession of the Dalai Lama.

The EU highlighted the vulnerability of religious, ethnic and linguistic minorities, including Uighurs and Tibetans, the negative impact of Hong Kong’s new national security law on rights and freedoms, and the erosion of the territory’s autonomy.

Expressing deep concern over the human rights situation in Xinjiang, Tibetan regions and Hong Kong, the EU cited reports of crackdowns on human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists.

It urged Beijing to prevent human rights violations and investigate cases of unlawful detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment.

Specific cases raised included those of EU citizen Gui Minhai, Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti, and Tibetan activists Go Sherab Gyatso and Tashi Dorje.

The EU also noted the detention of individuals for exercising freedom of religion, belief, expression and peaceful assembly, and highlighted the cases of Shu Na, Pastor Wang Yi, Zhang Chunlei, Ding Yuande, Yu Wensheng, Shu Yan, Zhang Zhan, Li Qiaochu, Peng Lifa and Kamil Veyt.

The EU also called for a re-evaluation of China’s national security framework to ensure compliance with international human rights law.

It encouraged Beijing to invite UN special procedures and monitoring bodies to assess and improve its human rights record.

In response, China discussed the situation of refugees, migrants and manifestations of racism in the EU, focusing on economic, social and cultural rights there.

The EU also informed China about upcoming European legislation that will require companies to conduct human rights due diligence checks and ban products made with forced labour from entering the EU market.

Both sides reaffirmed the importance of upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and discussed achieving the full realization of civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. The EU emphasised that all human rights are interconnected, interdependent and equally essential to the protection of human dignity.

The talks concluded with an agreement to continue exchanges in preparation for the next human rights dialogue in 2025.

It was co-chaired by Paola Pampaloni, Deputy Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific at the European External Action Service, and Shen Bo, Director General for International Organisations and Conferences at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, with EU Member States participating as observers.

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