News / Asia

Three Questions: China, France and Human Rights

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, right, and Chinese President Hu Jintao, salute the French flag, shortly after the arrival of Hu Jintao in Paris, 04 Nov. 2010.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, right, and Chinese President Hu Jintao, salute the French flag, shortly after the arrival of Hu Jintao in Paris, 04 Nov. 2010.

Chinese President Hu Jintao is in Paris for a state visit expected to finalize multi-billion-dollar trade deals between China and France. Human rights advocates have complained that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has not put the contentious issue of human rights on the agenda.

The France visit is the first foreign trip for Mr. Hu since this year's Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to jailed pro-democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo last month. The two leaders have not scheduled a joint press conference as is customary during a state visit.  That has led to speculation they are seeking to avoid questions about the Nobel winner.

VOA spoke with Amnesty International China researcher Corinna-Barbara Francis about the visit.

Q: How should European countries address human rights issues with China during the Paris talks?

A: "We feel that it is critical for both countries, as well as international organizations like the U.N. and their spokespeople, to raise human rights issues with the Chinese authorities, both in private settings as well as in public. The Chinese people, Chinese civil society is looking to the international community for support in what is often for them an extremely risky course of action in demanding and trying to promote human rights progress within China.  The fact that we would not stand out in support of those people is truly a shame. For countries to not stand on the right side of that issue is very disturbing, and so we absolutely call on countries, their leaders, international organizations and their leaders to speak publicly, as well as privately on these issues."

Q: Meanwhile, there is a report that the Chinese government is pressuring European countries, such as France, to avoid the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring Liu Xiaobo next month. Are you aware of this?

A: "China is pressuring world leaders to boycott the Nobel Peace Prize, it's actually difficult to find words to describe that. The Nobel Peace Prize is recognized throughout the world as an independent assessment of individuals who have contributed in very important ways to world peace, to human rights progress.  And for the Chinese to be pushing others to boycott that is in the first place is making themselves look a bit ridiculous.  And secondly, the Chinese authorities are constantly carrying on about not interfering in other nation's affairs.  It seems to be an obvious intervention in other countries's internal affairs to be trying to get them to boycott the Nobel Peace Prize.  And it's well known that the Chinese have a very strict regime of censorship and of repression of individuals who are simply trying to speak out to promote human rights, which is the case with Mr. Liu Xiaobo. 

Q: It may seem obvious, but why is the Chinese government so rankled by the awarding of this very distinguished award to one of China's own?

A: "His [Liu Xiaobo's] crime, his so-called alleged crime, is speaking out, writing articles, organizing petitions calling for improved political reform, nothing that the international community would consider a crime.  You know, first the virulent reaction on the part of the Chinese authorities to his winning the prize is an indication of how they are regarding human rights and their own country.  But for the Chinese to take that step further, and to actually pressure diplomats and world leaders to boycott, is in a sense trying to export their own regime of censorship to the international stage, which is a very disturbing process. And this is not the first time we're seeing that happening.  Chinese authorities around the world adopt a lot of actions that are very interventionist in terms of trying to crack down either on their own artists who try to perform abroad. We have examples of the Chinese using all kinds of methods to try to derail cultural events taking place around the world which might feature a Chinese artist that they happen not to like, that has happened to some of the best known Chinese artists, Chinese musical groups around the world. So this is not a new pattern we're seeing, but it is a disturbing one." 

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid