French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping shaking hands after releasing joint press remarks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on January 9, 2018. 

© 2018 Kyodo via AP Images

(Paris, November 1, 2019) – French President Emmanuel Macron should keep his pledges to press for key human rights improvements during his upcoming visit to China, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the president. Macron will visit China from November 4 to 6, 2019.

Human Rights Watch urged Macron to press Chinese President Xi Jinping publicly to close the “political education” camps in Xinjiang, to release all wrongfully detained or imprisoned activists, and to respect Hong Kong people’s rights to participate in politics. “Quiet diplomacy” only reaches government officials, not ordinary people across China, and thus generates little pressure on the government to reverse the downward spiral of human rights during Xi’s tenure, Human Rights Watch said.

Macron, decrying a global weakening of human rights, recently stressed the need for France to “show courage” in defending rights and combatting impunity for serious violations.

“President Macron’s courage to confront abuses against people because of their religion, peaceful views, or democratic aspirations shouldn’t fade when it comes to China,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Failing to demonstrate publicly that these abuses come at a cost will only encourage Xi’s government to keep committing them.”