Brussels, 18 December 2015 – A major debate in the European Parliament on Tuesday (December 15) was followed by the adoption of a report by more than 500 MEPs expressing serious concern on human rights in Tibet and China, and calling for a more coherent EU policy towards China and the need to « deepen exchanges between the EU and China on human rights issues to be matched by tangible improvements in the situation on the ground ».
The report on EU-China relations drafted by MEP Belder (Netherlands, European Conservatives and Reformists Group) followed the second visit to China of the EU Special Representative for Human Rights Mr Stavros Lambrinidis and the 34th EU-China Human Rights dialogue on November 30 in Beijing.
Vincent Metten, EU Policy Director at ICT Brussels, said: « We applaud the strong language and the space given in the Belder report to Tibet and Human rights issues. Members of the European Parliament have expressed their serious concerns about the overall degradation of the human rights situation in Tibet and China and about some worrying developments such as the Foreign NGO Management and counter-terrorism draft laws, the lack of access to Tibet, anti Dalai Lama campaigns, the lack of religious freedom, the criminalization of self-immolations, the forced resettlements of nomads, the use of torture or the degradation of the environment on the Tibetan Plateau ».
ICT notes with great interest the recommendation on travel restrictions to Tibet imposed to EU citizens: «no such restrictions apply to Chinese citizens (including diplomats and journalists) across EU Member States; strongly urges therefore that steps be taken to enforce the principle of reciprocity ». This position echoes the US Congress bill introduced by Representatives Jim McGovern and Joseph Pitts on February 26, 2015, known as the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act 2015. The legislation would deny access to the United States by Chinese officials who are responsible for creating or administering policies on travel to Tibetan areas until China eliminates discriminatory restrictions on access by Americans to Tibet.
During the debate prior to the vote, Nicolas Schmit who spoke on behalf of the Luxembourg EU Presidency said that there are many areas where the human rights situation is deteriorating, and that the EU must continue to make the argument that this will lead to more instability in China
Antonio López-Istúriz White (EPP, ES) welcomed the emphasis on human rights and fundamental freedoms and the interests of the Tibetan people amongst others. Jo Lienen (S&D, DE) who is the head of the Delegation for the relations with China stressed the importance of the human rights dialogue and those on Tibet and Taiwan in particular. Charles Tannock (ECR, UK) said he supported strong relations with China and was critical of China’s human rights record and the oppression of Tibetan culture and other religious minorities. Thomas Mann (EPP, DE) the Chair of the Tibet Interest Group called for unrestricted exercise of Buddhism and deplored the increasing environmental pollution on the Tibetan plateau and urged China to renew its relationship with the Dalai Lama.
In it’s Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2014 and the European Union’s policy on the matter, adopted on 17 December, the European Parliament also noted the lack of results from the human rights dialogues with China, and called on the EEAS to profoundly rethink its human rights strategy regarding China, a position that ICT fully shares. The 34th EU-China Human Rights Dialogue took place on 30th November in Beijing. The EU side raised the issue of Tibet and the issue of environmental protection and human rights; ICT’s latest report « Blue gold from the highest plateau: Tibet’s water and global climate change » reveals that Tibet’s fragile environment, which is warming faster than anywhere else, is of critical global importance.
A video recording of the debate on EU-China relations in the European Parliament on 15 December is available here.