Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, (L) European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, (C) and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso during the 15th EU-China summit in Brussels on September 20, 2012 (Photo/AFP/Getty)
DHARAMSHALA, September 21: The European Union has expressed its concerns over the situation in Tibet with Chinese Premiere Wen Jiabao at the recently concluded 15th EU-China Summit in Brussels.
In a press statement
at the end of the day-long summit on Thursday, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso reiterated the “great importance” that EU attaches to the respect for fundamental freedoms in China.
“We recognise the tremendous progress achieved in China by lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. But there are also concerns, in particular regarding restrictions of freedom of expression and the situation in Tibet,” EU said.
Since 2009, 51 Tibetans inside Tibet have set themselves on fire demanding Tibet’s freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile. Last month alone witnessed seven self-immolations and a spate of protests, leading to the death and brutal beatings of Tibetan demonstrators.
The elected Tibetan leadership in exile has said that Tibet is “effectively under undeclared martial law” and blamed the Chinese government for the increasing number of self-immolations.
In the statement, EU, while welcoming the resumption of the Human Rights Dialogue with China in May this year, after more than one year, stressed on the need for further progress and improvement.
“In our view it should deliver more progress on the ground,” EU said. “There is still room for improvement and we need to focus on that.”
On June 25 this year, with the adoption of a landmark human rights package, EU foreign ministers had pledged that human rights, democracy, and rule of law will be promoted “in all areas of the EU's external actions without exception” and that the EU will “place human rights at the center of its relations with all third countries including strategic partners.”
In a repeat of last year’s failure to agree over format arrangements, a post-summit press conference was cancelled after EU refused China’s demand of having the right to vet the names of journalists for the conference.
The news conference was scheduled to be jointly addressed by Barroso, Rompuy, and Wen.
An EU official has been quoted as saying that China's concern appeared to be that journalists from Taiwan would ask questions, or that journalists would ask Wen about Tibet and other sensitive issues.
The EU-China summit is a biannual meeting focused on bilateral ties and global issues.