By Tenzin Nyidon
DHARAMSHALA, Feb. 24: The European Union should suspend its upcoming human rights dialogue with China, given the magnitude of China’s rights abuses, including its potential crimes against humanity in the Xinjiang region despite past dialogues, a press release by Human Rights Watch (HRW) released last week stated.
“The EU’s human rights dialogues with China have become increasingly meaningless because both sides know that Beijing can make no commitment and get away with it,” said Dolkun Isa, World Uyghur Congress. “The EU had gained momentum holding the Chinese government accountable for growing abuses in recent years; it should not dial back by returning to these tick-the-box exercises.”
A joint letter by ten human rights groups have urged the EU to suspend its ineffective human rights dialogue with China. Instead, the EU should prioritise ‘strong and concrete human rights outcomes’ including Tibet, said International Campaign for Tibet (ICT). The EU should also publicly call for an end to China’s brutal repression in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong and for the release of arbitrary detention of human rights defenders and activists, the letter stated.
Since 2019, human rights dialogue between the EU and the Chinese government has been suspended due to the EU’s imposition of human rights sanctions against officials involved in human rights abuses in East Turkestan (Xinjiang); and Beijing’s retaliatory sanctions against the European Parliament members. In December 2022, during European Council President Charles Michel’s visit to Beijing, President Xi agreed to resume the EU-China human rights dialogue. The resumption of the dialogue also came days after China’s new Ambassador to the EU called to lift reciprocal sanctions and the swift ratification of a bilateral trade deal.
“The eagerness to resume these dialogues despite their proven ineffectiveness risks signaling that the EU is ready to sweep aside human rights to secure closer trade ties and cooperation with Beijing,” said Philippe Dam, EU Director at Human Rights Watch.” “Lacking any prospect for concrete progress, the EU should suspend the dialogues and double down on its efforts to secure UN action on China’s abysmal record and pursue accountability for international crimes committed in Xinjiang.”