FIDH and Human Rights in China
Reports
25 February 2004

Preliminary Assessment of the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue

Overview of the EU/China human rights dialogue

Dialogue was initiated in January 1996, but interrupted by China after ten member states tabled a

resolution on the human rights situation in China at the 1997 CHR. It was resumed at the end of

the same year and, since then, has been held twice a year.

Since 1997, the Council has noted several areas of progress:
- the Chinese government ‘s willingness to address "sensitive issues of common

concern in the framework of the dialogue";
- the signing and ratification of the ICESCR and greater cooperation with UN human

rights mechanisms; and
- steps taken in relationship to rule of law, legal and social reforms.

While cooperative expressions are relevant, "encouraging results," welcoming "China’s developing

cooperation," and "willingness to discuss sensitive issues of common concern in the framework of

the dialogue" are not adequate indicators of progress in light of EU concerns and the persistence

and seriousness of human rights violations and abuses in China. Even as it noted progress being

made, the Council has consistently had to note their concerns with ongoing and serious human

rights violations. These violations include crack-downs on peaceful political activists, restrictions on

religious expression, lack of freedom of assembly, expression, and association, extensive use of

the death penalty, severe measures against certain minority groups, including deprivation of

religious and cultural rights, particularly in Tibet and Xinjiang, and extensive use of administrative

detention and torture.

The Council conclusions are specifically referenced to underscore the fact that exactly the same

concerns have been raised since the outset of the dialogue. (See Attachment 1: Summary of

Dialogue). Certain conclusions are harsher than others, but they mainly remain the same

throughout the years, unfortunately underscoring the persistence of violations and lack of progress

in the human rights situation on the ground.

Every year, in advance of the Commission on Human Rights, the Council also assesses the

human rights situation in China in order to decide about the EU stance in Geneva concerning a

resolution on human rights in China. In recent years, the EU Presidency expressed serious

concern at the human rights situation in China in its opening statements to the annual UNCHR

sessions. The Council position with respect to tabling a resolution on China has ranged from

decision not to table or co-sponsor a resolution (1998, 1999), voting against a no-action motion

(1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003), voting in favour of a resolution if tabled (2001, 2002, 2003).
Last Update 25 February 2004

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