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).

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