Brussels, 20 November 2013 – The European Union (EU) must challenge the worsening of the human rights situation in Tibet at the upcoming summit with China on 21st November in Beijing. The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) also calls upon the EU not to compromise values it promotes through ‘external action’, including human rights, as negotiations begin on the EU’s first stand-alone investment agreement with China.

Vincent Metten, EU Policy Director at ICT’s Brussels office, said: “The EU should raise human rights in Tibet in all forms of bilateral dialogue with China, including at the highest level. Discussions on human rights should not be confined to the human rights dialogue but should also be integrated into the summit. The EU has an important responsibility in ensuring that Tibet is on the agenda of the upcoming summit with China and that human rights are not sidelined in the face of prevailing economic interests and trade relations.”

During the Summit, negotiations are expected to be launched on a EU-China bilateral investment agreement, which would be EU’s first ever stand-alone investment agreement.

“In view of the ongoing discussions on an EU-China bilateral investment agreement, the EU should take into account the European Parliament’s recommendations, stressing that ‘investment agreements concluded by the EU should not be in contradiction with the values that the EU wishes to promote through its external action’, including human rights, and calling for ‘binding social and environmental clauses’ in the agreement,” said Vincent Metten.

ICT urges the EU to raise the issues of the counter-productive and dangerous militarisation of Tibet, the crackdown and criminalization measures on self-immolations, and the need to restart the Sino-Tibetan dialogue, which has been stalled since 2010.

ICT regrets that so far the EU has had a weak approach on human rights concerns in China. The 32nd round of the EU-China human rights dialogue, held in June 2013, once again failed to deliver tangible results. The announcement made by Chinese officials to no longer accept a list of individual cases of political prisoners demonstrates their willingness to downgrade the Human Rights Dialogue process.

During China’s recent second Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council Tibet was raised by a greater number of countries than in the same forum four years ago. The majority of them were EU Member States (Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland and the UK as well as Denmark and Sweden in advance written questions) which expressed concern about the lack of religious freedom, minority rights, and access of UN officials to Tibet, and called on China “to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama”.

At tomorrow’s EU-China summit, the EU should build up on these recently pronounced statements by its Member States and continue questioning China on its poor human rights record in Tibet, while at the same time clarifying its expectations for genuine change.

In recent years ICT has witnessed a deterioration of rights protection and an intensification of crackdowns in Tibet. Since February 2009, at least 123 Tibetans have self-immolated in Tibet and China. However, the Chinese response to the escalation of self-immolations consisted in strengthening the ‘stability maintenance’ approach through a more pervasive and systematic ‘patriotic education’ campaign, associated with a dramatic expansion of powers of China’s policing and military apparatus.

ICT welcomes the fact that human rights have been put on the agenda of the summit. However, it reiterates the need to be result-oriented and specific about the situation in Tibet, drawing upon the outcomes of the first official visit of the EU Special Representative for Human Rights to Tibet in September 2013.

ICT urges the EU to convey the message that the Chinese government’s current policy on human rights in both Tibet and China is unacceptable and a threat to bilateral relations. The EU and China can only become real strategic partners when genuine and concrete improvements on human rights will take place in Tibet as well as in the rest of China. This is a necessary precondition for a stable, respectful and trustful partnership between both parties.

For more information please contact:
Vincent Metten
EU Policy Director, ICT Brussels
[email protected]
+ 32(0)2 609 4410

Elena Gaita
Policy and Advocacy Officer, ICT Brussels
[email protected]
+32 (0)2 609 4411