Brussels – The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini must address the worsening human rights situation in Tibet during her upcoming visit to China on the occasion of the Strategic Dialogue to be held on 5 – 6 May.

In a recent letter addressing the High Representative, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) called on her to ensure that human rights, both in Tibet and mainland China, remain at the forefront of her agenda and meetings with the Chinese government.

“As this is Mrs. Mogherini’s first official visit to China, it is very important that she sets the tone and framework for further future discussions with the Chinese leadership by showing a strong position on human rights issues from the very start,” said Vincent Metten, ICT’s EU Policy Director. ”At the beginning of her mandate, the High Representative expressed her willingness to reassess the EU’s approach towards key strategic partners, such as China. This visit is the perfect occasion to move from words to concrete action and implement a new approach. Her position during this dialogue should reflect the EU’s commitments on human rights.”

This year marks the 40th anniversary of EU-China diplomatic relations, which have broadened to encompass numerous issues, organized around 3 pillars, namely political dialogue, economic and sectoral dialogue, and people to people dialogue. In recent years, however, the EU and its Member States have failed to fully address the gross human rights abuses committed by the Chinese government, despite the central nature of these concerns to a robust and healthy bilateral relationship.

In Tibet, the crackdown has been intensified after Xi Jinping assumed power as China’s leader. Arbitrary detentions, torture in State custody, hate speech against the Dalai Lama and Tibetan representatives, and restrictions to freedom of expression and assembly are just a few examples of the abuses, which the Tibetan people are subjected to on a regular basis. 139 Tibetans in China have responded to the anguish of oppression by setting themselves on fire.

The EU and its Member States need to adopt a stronger and more coordinated position on Tibet, in particular on the Sino-Tibetan dialogue process, which has been stalled since 2010. ICT is deeply concerned that if China fails to address this issue, it will lead to greater tensions and instability inside the country. Resolving the current situation in Tibet is in the interest of both the Chinese and Tibetan people. This issue must be raised as a matter of priority at the upcoming Strategic Dialogue.