(Brussels)—European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini should publicly and privately express concerns about China’s deteriorating human rights environment, Human Rights Watch said in a letter today. Mogherini will visit China May 5-6 for a strategic dialogue.
“The EU has repeatedly committed itself to promoting human rights in all external actions and with strategic partners,” said Sophie Richardson, China director. “High Representative Mogherini should express serious concern about threats to basic human rights, both as a matter of principle and as a premise for closer ties.”
The letter notes the EU’s support for human rights in its public statements and at the UN Human Rights Council, and addresses the relationship between securing human rights protections and advancing the bilateral relationship. It urges Mogherini to:
- Explain to her Chinese government counterparts the relationship between human rights protections in China and the overall strength of the EU-China relationship;
- Publicly call for the release of peaceful government critics, anti-corruption activists, lawyers, and journalists;
- Ask China to withdraw its proposed legislation restricting foreign nongovernmental organizations, who often support China’s independent civil society;
- Make clear that the human rights issues identified in the EU’s Item 4 statement at the March 2015 session of the UN Human Rights Council will be topics of discussion at the EU-China Summit later this year; and
- Commit to finding ways to convey to public audiences in China and Europe the nature of these discussions.
“The EU can’t get where it wants to go with China absent an improved human rights situation – one with non-politicized courts and the freedom of expression,” Richardson said. “It’s up to Mogherini and other senior EU officials to push hard at every opportunity, and let those in China struggling for their rights know the EU supports them.”