China's policy towards Taiwan and Tibet, as well as human rights questions about the death penalty, forced labour camps, and the freedom of religion, the press and the internet constitute the bulk of a report adopted by the European Parliament. The own-initiative report by Bastiaan Belder (IND/DEM, NL) was approved by (351-48-160) and comes on the eve of a high-level EU-China summit, which will be held on 9 September in Helsinki.
The Parliament's report concentrates on the human rights situation in China. Specifically, it "deplores the contradiction between the constitutional freedom of belief (enshrined in Article 36 of the Constitution) and the ongoing interference of the State in the affairs of religious communities." The EP is deeply concerned "that the practice of torture remains widespread in China," and condemns the Laogai labour camps across the country. On the political front, the EP calls on China to abolish the death penalty, and to "refrain from intimidating, cracking down on or imprisoning those who advocate freedom of expression." In addition, MEPs express their worry about "recent reports of continuing serious human rights abuses in Tibetan areas of China."
On the foreign relations front, the Parliament's report strongly recommends "that the EU arms embargo against China remain intact until greater progress is made on human rights issues". It also criticises China's provocative behaviour towards Taiwan and Japan, and asks the Chinese government for a "decisive stance" on the Iranian nuclear crisis. MEPs adopted an amendment which makes specific mention of Taiwan's "territorial sovereignty and integrity."
The House also notes some concerns about economic relations. It urges the Chinese authorities to improve the protection of Intellectual Property Rights, and calls on the Commission to "exert political and economic pressure aimed at bringing flexibility to bear on the exchange rate of the Chinese currency, which is being pegged at an artificially low rate."
The PES group decided to abstain from the report. Hannes Swoboda (PES, AT) explained that although his group agreed with the human rights parts of the report, the failure to include mention of the EU's "one China - two systems" policy in the report.