News / Europe

Debt-Laden Europe Cautious On China Human Rights

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, stands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Chinese Prime Minister stays for a two day official visit in Germany, June 28, 2011
Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, stands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Chinese Prime Minister stays for a two day official visit in Germany, June 28, 2011
Henry Ridgwell

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is wrapping up his tour of Europe after signing a raft of business deals worth several billion dollars. European states are increasingly looking to China for investment to shore up their ailing economies.

In capitals across Europe, elaborate ceremonies were laid on to welcome Wen Jiabao.

In London, the Chinese premier inspected an honor guard after being taken on a mini-tour of the country.

Next stop Berlin - where Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted a dinner at a lakeside villa. The lavish European welcome was repaid at a later press conference.

"We have faith in Europe's economy and in the euro,” says Wen, “and we said we are going to buy appropriate levels of debt of some European countries if needed," Wen said.

Wen also signed deals worth $15 billion in Germany - including the purchase of 88 European-made Airbus planes.

China’s open check-book has not been welcomed by all. ‘Free Tibet’ protesters shadowed Wen’s tour.

More widely, human rights organizations say the situation in China has worsened since pro-democracy protests erupted across the Arab world.

Sam Zafiri is from Amnesty International. “China has actually moved back significantly. The human rights situation in China has not been this bad in a decade probably, if not more,” he noted.

An example, says Zafiri, is the detention of artist and political activist Ai Weiwei who was arrested in April, allegedly for tax evasion. Along with fellow activist Hu Jia, he was released just days before Wen Jiabao’s tour of Europe. “There are dozens of activists, lawyers, dissidents who are facing even greater restrictions on their ability to speak," Zafiri stated. "So the Chinese government clearly responds to outside pressure … the myth of a China that is somehow immune because of its economic clout is just that, a myth.”

Still, British Prime Minister David Cameron gave a careful response when questioned on China’s human rights. “We do believe that the best guarantor of prosperity and stability is for economic and political progress to go in step together," he said.

The Chinese premier was more direct in his reply.

“On human rights China and the UK should respect each other,” says Wen, “respect the facts, treat each other as equals, engage in cooperation rather than finger pointing, and resolve properly our differences through dialogue," he stated.

As Europe struggles with its debt crisis, analysts say leaders are reluctant to openly criticize China when there are billion-dollar business deals on the table.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs