09.12.2009: CHALLENGES WITH CHINA DISCUSSED AT HUMAN RIGHTS EXCHANGE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BRUSSELS 001656
FOR DEPT EUR/ERA:LKONICK, DRL/AWH:SOSULLIVAN, DRL/IRF:EKAO,
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/09/2019
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, KIRF, EU
SUBJECT: CHALLENGES WITH CHINA DISCUSSED AT HUMAN RIGHTS
Classified By: Deputy Political Counselor Mary Curtin for reasons 1.4(b
) and (d).
1. (C) SUMMARY. The recent EU-China human rights dialogue
dominated discussions during the December 4 human rights
exchange (HRE) on China. Participants from the EU, Sweden,
The Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Australia, Japan,
Switzerland, Norway, Canada and the U.S. also discussed
efforts to mainstream human rights into their overall
relationships with China and debated possible avenues for
cooperation with the Chinese. The Dutch hosts concluded the
conversation with a session on the current state of freedom
of religion in China. Canada will host the next human rights
exchange in May 2010. END SUMMARY.
FROSTY CLIMATE AT EU-CHINA DIALOGUE
2. (C) Swedish xxxx
began the session by providing a bleak assessment of the
November 20 EU-China human rights dialogue. xxxx
explained that the Chinese failed to provide relevant
information and spent an inordinate amount of time detailing
human rights violations in EU member states. Rule of law was
the main topic on the EU side, but according to xxxx
the Chinese answered all inquiries by reiterating the "Three
Supremes" doctrine (the will of
the party and the will of the people will override the
importance of the written law in legal cases). "China then
encouraged the EU to find a more open attitude toward rule of
law," xxxx said. China also sharply attacked the UN
Special Procedures by stating that rapporteurs and envoys
should be elected with consideration to better geographic
distribution. According to xxxx, the one positive
aspect of the dialogue was an extensive reply to individual
cases by the Chinese. The Chinese, he guessed, were
attempting to thwart any EU attempts to bring up more
individual cases at the EU-China summit ten days later.
3. (C) xxxx then asked European Commission Human
Rights xxxx, xxxx, to comment on
the legal seminar and field visits attached to the dialogue.
The seminars remains highly politicized, explained xxxx, and
the Chinese objected to almost all aspects of the
organization and participation, including specific opposition
to the participation of representatives from Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch. To end deliberations
the EU agreed to circulate, on the Chinese Ministry of
Foreign Affair´s behalf, a notice forbidding individuals from
participating in side meetings outside the legal seminar.
The EU did conduct its own side meetings with the Ministry of
Labor and the Ministry of Justice, but xxxx described these
as "dual monologues" instead of actual discussions.
Reflecting on his experience, xxxx, who has participated in
four prior EU-China dialogues, said that the atmosphere was
"aggressive, assertive, frosty" and the most difficult he had
experienced. xxxx agreed, adding that China repeatedly
reiterated that these are new times and China is "no longer
going to sit here to be lectured by you."
4. (C) This aggressive atmosphere of the seminar and human
rights dialogue marred joint statement negotiations prior to
the EU-China summit, explained European Commission xxxx. However, according to
xxxx, the EU brought up human rights concerns, but not
individual cases, at the ministerial troika prior to the
summit, at European Commission President Jose Manual
Barroso´s private dinner with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, at
the press conference, and at the summit itself.
MAINSTREAMING HUMAN RIGHTS VIS--VIS CHINA
5. (C) Several other HRE participants described similar
efforts to mainstream human rights concerns into other
aspects of their relationships with China. The Dutch, for
example, explained that it is their policy to brief all
ministers on human rights issues of concern to their
portfolios prior to visiting China. Canada said that they
used ministerial meetings as a means to raise human rights
following the suspension of their formal dialogue. The U.S.
also described its interest in expanding an "interagency
approach" to raising key human rights issues, emphasizing the
role rule of law, the free flow of information, religious
tolerance, and a vibrant civil society can play in helping to
address global challenges and maintaining stability.
6. (U) Currently the EU is evaluating the EU-China human
rights dialogue, and one aspect of the review is how best to
mainstream human rights issues. The EU is also trying to
determine how to assess the impact and success of the
dialogue, as well as evaluating the legal seminar. Since
member states have not come to any conclusions, the European
Council representative did not comment on the evaluation´s
internal or strategic recommendations.
7. (C) HRE participants agreed that human rights and civil
society conditions within China are generally deteriorating,
especially the rule of law. European Commission Human Rights
xxxx said that his contacts are
reporting that human rights lawyers are increasingly harassed
by police and experiencing increased pressure by the Beijing
Lawyers Association. Australia reported concern about the
continued imprisonment by petitioners in black jails. When
the EU asked China about these black jails during the EU
dialogue, xxxx explained, Chinese officials dismissed
them as "guest-houses" for the petitioners. xxxx said
that the Chinese appear to now use a new, more relativist
approach to human rights, refusing to accept the universality
concept. Despite this, xxxx agreed with the U.S. delegation
comment that human rights defenders in China feel it is
useful to have interactions with the diplomatic community.
ANY OTHER OPTIONS?
8. (C) Meanwhile, European Commission xxxx argued that
pressing the Chinese on political
rights is a "dead end." According to xxxx, there are
subjects on which China can be engaged, but they are in
realms that diplomats traditionally lack technical expertise,
such as migration, health, and conflict resolution within
companies. Canada offered environmental issues as one
subject on which cooperation with the China may be possible.
The Dutch, however, disagreed, stating that not pushing China
in multilateral fora to accept the universality of human
rights would undermine everyone´s efforts. The challenge,
said the U.S. delegation, is to identify internal debates in
Chinese society and government over reform, and then to
determine how best to support the reform under consideration.
Labor law is one area where continued progress is possible.
The Swedes agreed and offered violence against women and
anti-discrimination as two other possible avenues for
FREEDOM OF RELIGION
9. (C) Finally, HRE participants discussed freedom of
religion in China as this session´s theme. The Dutch
provided a historical perspective on the situation, saying
that in China, religion is not viewed as an intrinsic right,
but rather as a tool of society. During a recent conference,
the Dutch continued, the Chinese appeared very interested in
religion´s role in providing welfare. The U.S. agreed, and
said that the U.S. plans on discussing faith-based aid during
the upcoming human rights dialogue and working group on
religion. The U.S. will invite the Chinese to look at our
system to demonstrate how including religious groups in our
infrastructure promotes stability. Participants also
expressed concern about the situation in Tibet and Xinjiang,
including recent executions and the continued persecution of
the Falun Gong.
BRUSSELS 00001656 003.2 OF 003
10. (C) Canada will host the next HRE sometime toward the end
of May and Germany offered to host during the second half of
11. (U) DRL cleared this cable.