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China: EU Should Raise Rights Crisis on Visit

High Representative Needs to Publicly Call for End to Crackdown

(Brussels, April 19, 2017) – The European Union foreign policy chief should speak out publicly and privately about the deteriorating human rights situation in China, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, attends a joint news conference with China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi (not pictured) at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China on April 19, 2017. © 2017 Reuters

During her visit to China from April 19 to 20, 2017, Mogherini will co-chair the 7th EU-China Strategic Dialogue with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and meet with senior Chinese officials, including Premier Li Keqiang and business leaders.

“During her China visit, High Representative Mogherini needs to act on the EU’s pledge to promote human rights, democracy, and rule of law abroad,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “Mogherini should strongly and clearly denounce the Chinese leaders’ increasingly heavy-handed repression of civil society activists.”

Human Rights Watch urged Mogherini to publicly call for the immediate release of all detained peaceful government critics, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and Martin Ennals Award winner Ilham Tohti.

She should also strongly express the EU’s concerns about a slew of new legislation that violates human rights and imposes harsh restrictions on civil society groups, such as the Counterterrorism Law, the Cybersecurity Law, and the Foreign NGO Management Law, and urge the Chinese government to stop suppressing religious teaching and expression, Human Rights Watch said.

“EU officials should demonstrate their seriousness about promoting human rights in the EU’s foreign policy by speaking out publicly about Beijing’s rampant abuses,” Richardson said. “Mogherini should seize this opportunity to press China’s leaders to end the crackdown.”

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