The 20th European Union (EU)-China Summit will be held in mid-July in Beijing, China to discuss political and economic relations as well as global and regional issues.
The human rights situation in China has further deteriorated since the last EU-China Summit in 2017. China continues its abusive campaign against independent civil society, ethnic and religious minorities, the rule of law and freedom of expression. The Chinese government has created a comprehensive national security legal architecture that is being misused by the authorities to silence dissent, censor information and harass and prosecute human rights defenders.
Following on EU statements condemning these developments, its leaders should also publicly raise concerns during high level meetings like the EU-China summit. The EU should robustly engage their Chinese counterparts to make meaningful improvements, starting with the release of unjustly jailed human rights defenders.
This year’s EU-China Summit will take place just a few days after the first anniversary of the death in detention of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. His wife, poet Liu Xia, remains under illegal house arrest*. Dozens of others have been jailed or disappeared by Chinese authorities for their human rights work or for just peacefully expressing dissent, including human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, Uighur professor Ilham Tohti, Taiwanese democracy activist Lee Ming-cheh, Tibetan language activist Tashi Wangchuk and Swedish writer Gui Minhai.
Last year, after having publicly made only superficial reference to human rights concerns at the Summit, EU Presidents Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker expressed their “deep sadness” over the death of Liu Xiaobo. This year, they should honour his memory by fighting for the release of all those jailed for sharing his dream of a China that respects all human rights – starting with Liu Xia, Wang Quanzhang, Ilham Tohti, Lee Ming-cheh, Tashi Wangchuk and Gui Minhai.
Join Amnesty and Human Rights Watch to call on EU leaders to make this their top priority.
*Liu Xia was finally set free on 10 July! This shows pressure works, and the EU should now double their efforts to secure the release of the remaining 5 and all other unjustly jailed human rights defenders and activists.