(Brussels) – European Union leaders should publicly call for an end to the Chinese government’s crackdown on peaceful dissent and urge the release of all those wrongfully detained, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk. Juncker and Tusk will attend the EU-China Summit in Beijing on July 12-13, 2016.
“The EU presidents should stress to China’s leaders that they don’t treat the current crackdown as ‘business as usual,’” said Lotte Leicht, EU director at Human Rights Watch. “Working to reverse the deteriorating rights situation in China is key to advancing the new EU-China strategy and other EU interests in China.”
The EU has publicly commented on the Chinese government’s escalating assault on human rights through its statements at the United Nations Human Rights Council and the remarks of various EU officials.
At the summit, Juncker and Tusk should go beyond those remarks to publicly call for an end to the crackdown, the release of jailed activists and rights lawyers, and a thorough investigation into persistent allegations of torture, Human Rights Watch said. They should also publicly clarify that EU support to civil society groups will continue even as a draconian law comes into effect that will severely restrict the ability of nongovernmental organizations to benefit from foreign funding, and that any EU cooperation with China on law enforcement and counterterrorism will require significant reforms in ending security force abuses.
“The EU frequently says human rights are at the core of its foreign policy, and it has been more assertive in calling out Beijing’s abuses,” Leicht said. “EU leaders now need to translate these general expressions of concern into clear calls for concrete action by China to end the crackdown and release jailed activists.”