French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shake hands during a press conference in Beijing, China, January 9, 2018. 

© 2018 Reuters

(Paris) – French President Emmanuel Macron should keep his pledge not to “cover upChina’s human rights abuses during the upcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Macron. Xi will visit France from March 24 to 26, 2019.

“President Xi’s trip to France provides President Macron with an important opportunity to seek credible international visits to assess the conditions of Xinjiang’s persecuted Turkic Muslims,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Macron needs to give meaning to his call for ‘common goods,’ such as freedom and justice, by challenging Xi over human rights violations of a magnitude not seen in China for decades.”

Human Rights Watch urged Macron to press Xi, among other steps, to:

  • Allow meaningful access to the Xinjiang region for the United Nations high commissioner for human rights and other UN representatives, consistent with recent calls by France and the European Union;
  • Immediately and unconditionally release wrongfully detained human rights defenders and peaceful critics, including Gui Minhai, Huang Qi, Wang Quanzhang, Ilham Tohti, Tashi Wangchuk, Guligeina Tashimaimaiti, and Li Ming-che;
  • Reverse China’s actions at the United Nations in opposition to human rights; and
  • Inform China that France will undertake a thorough review of all law enforcement cooperation with China in light of the enforced disappearance of then-Interpol chief Meng Hongwei in 2018, with a view toward suspending the cooperation where international human rights protections are not met.

“Foreign officials have often justified not challenging Chinese leaders on human rights out of ostensible concern that they might ‘lose face,’” Roth said. “But President Macron should keep in mind that the faces that matter are those of the countless people wrongly imprisoned, tortured and persecuted by President Xi and his government.”