26.07.2006: HUMAN RIGHTS: CHINA´S DIALOGUE PARTNERS HAVE MIXED
VIEWS ON EXCHANGES



C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIJING 015437

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/26/2031

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, SOCI, CH

SUBJECT: HUMAN RIGHTS: CHINA´S DIALOGUE PARTNERS HAVE MIXED

VIEWS ON EXCHANGES

Classified By: Ambassador Clark T. Randt, Jr. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).

Summary

-------

1. (C) Countries that conduct formal human rights

dialogues with China are disappointed that the

exchanges rarely yield immediate, tangible results,

contacts at foreign embassies in Beijing told us.

Nonetheless, most dialogue partners judged that the

exercise remains useful as a forum a) to express human

rights concerns to the Chinese and b) to push for

systemic change over the long term. Officials from

Bern Process missions here point to a 2005 report from

Ottawa on Canada´s dialogue with China as a useful

assessment of the current picture. Frustration with

the Ministry of Foreign Affairs´ role as a

"goalkeeper" that fends off international questions on

human rights issues persists. China´s dialogue

partners said their exchanges are considerably better

when Government organs other than the MFA are

involved. In addition, some countries have tried to

alter the nature of their exchanges to add value. End

Summary.

The Canadian Report

-------------------

2. (C) Poloff contacted human rights officers at

Embassies from several countries that maintain human

rights dialogues with China to gauge what results

their dialogues are yielding. (Note: Countries with

human rights dialogues with China include Australia,

Canada, the European Union, Germany, Hungary, Japan,

Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland

and the United Kingdom.) Many pointed to a report

commissioned by the Canadian Government and completed

by Canadian scholar Charles Burton as emblematic of

their own experiences at the table with the Chinese

(poloff has an electronic copy of the report that can

be sent on the unclassified system, contact

xxxx). The report stated that the

bilateral human rights dialogue process is

indispensable as it allows a forum for Western

governments to voice their concerns about human rights

violations in China. But worries persist that the

substantive effect of the dialogues is insufficient.

The report cites the following examples, among others:

-- the Chinese take up much time in the formal

meetings reading scripts;

-- there is little connection between the dialogues

and progress on human rights on the ground;

-- China´s MFA has downgraded the level of its head of

delegation and has reduced staff in its Human Rights

Division and

-- responses to the lists of cases of concern are not

as complete as Canada wants and degrees of

responsiveness vary significantly year to year.

3. (C) At the same time, foreign engagement with the

Chinese on human rights has paid some dividends, the

report related, such as development of legislation to

address violence against women and sexual harassment

and improved procedures in police conduct and prison

management. But on important issues of concern to

Canada, such as those relating to religious freedom,

labor rights and rights of ethnic minorities, progress

has been scant.

Disappointing Results

---------------------

4. (C) Canada´s disappointment is shared by other

Beijing missions. Two years ago, the EU introduced

benchmarks in the dialogue context to measure progress

on China´s human rights record, said xxxx.

The benchmarks included, among

other criteria, ratification of the International

Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, cooperation in

various UN mechanisms, abolition of the practice of

re-education through labor and release of Tiananmen-

era prisoners. But the introduction of these

benchmarks has not produced the immediate, measurable

results that the EU or its NGO community is looking

for, xxxx remarked.

5. (C) The Netherlands views its recent human rights

dialogues as disappointing, said xxxx of the

xxxx Embassy. She described the last iteration, in

December 2005, as "unfortunate," with the Chinese side

taking up much time complaining about UN Rapporteur on

Torture Manfred Nowak´s China trip report. Against

this backdrop, tangible results have been few and far

between, she said. Meanwhile, Canada´s report related

that each of its nine rounds of dialogue to date have

included the presentation of a list of "cases of

concern" consisting of names of people currently in

prison or in re-education through labor camps in

China. The Chinese MFA has asked Canada to no longer

request information on these cases of concern. The

MFA argues that Canada´s urging the Chinese Government

to reconsider the incarceration of certain Chinese

citizens is inconsistent with the principle of the

independence of the judiciary.

Focus on Long-Term Change

-------------------------

6. (C) Progress on human rights in China is due to

sustained and coordinated international pressure and

the concerted efforts of interested countries, xxxx

of the Dutch Embassy argued. Advances come in

increments, she said, via focus on institutional

change. xxxx of the Norwegian Embassy

separately made a similar point, adding that her

mission´s goal is to achieve long-term, systemic and

practical results, rather than to be "high-flying."

This involves providing teaching materials for

prisoners, expanding contact between Norway and

China´s Ministries of Justice and so on. The role of

the human rights dialgues is to smooth the way for

such contacts. Human Rights officers at other

missions all made remarks to a similar effect.

Trying to Improve the Exchange

------------------------------

7. (C) With the exception of the downbeat Dutch, all

the officers we spoke with said their countries value

the bilateral human rigts dialogues and intend to

continue the exchanges. (Note: The Dutch gave no

indication that they intend to cut off the exchanges;

they just expressed skepticism about their worth.) The

key now is to improve them and try to coax better

results. Canberra is looking for ways to keep its

dialogue with China from getting stale, said

Australian xxxx. The

bilateral Agreement on Technical Cooperation is a net

plus in this regard, she said. The ATC involves USD

1.6 million in programs (such as law enforcement

training) that allow the Australian Government to

engage on human rights issues with agencies other than

the MFA. The funds constitute a drop in the ocean,

xxxx remarked, but the ATC allows the Australians to

discuss with the Chinese issues that were taboo 10

years ago, such as prison conditions and torture.

Frustration with the MFA

------------------------

8. (C) Germany is trying to gradually expand the

scope of its human rights dialogue with China, said

German xxxx. "We are taking a long view and we hope to see

change over time," she said. Echoing the views of

nearly every human rights officer we spoke with, xxxx

said the dialogues are most useful when the

MFA´s role is minimized. "The MFA is the goalkeeper

and they can´t change anything," xxxx

complained. Rather, the MFA´s role is only to fend

off foreign questions about human rights issues and

promote a positive view of China internationally.

Meetings with other ministries -- Justice, Public

Security -- in the context of the human rights

dialogue are much more useful. In a similar vein,

Canada´s report notes that while the MFA´s mandate in

this exercise is to defuse foreign unease with China´s

human rights record, there is interest among Chinese

non-MFA participants in the dialogue in seeing what

aspects of Canada´s advanced experience can be of

benefit to China´s own development.

RANDT



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