By Nilay Kar Onum
China continues to deteriorate on civil and political rights despite its progress on economy and social rights, said the EU’s foreign policy chief on Thursday.
Speaking at a plenary session of the European Parliament on China, Federica Mogherini said: “Passing the clear message that for Europeans, human rights are not less important than economic interests.”
“This is a message that we have to consistently and in a coherent manner, as Europeans, pass at all levels: The Parliament, the Commission, the Council, and individual Member States in their bilateral relations with China,” she stressed.
Mogherini said the EU has a new kind of relationship with China — “a more intense one, but also a more frank and open one.”
“Our best tool is to keep engaging with China on human rights in a respectful but extremely clear manner,” she said.
On the deterioration of human rights, Mogherini said the arrests of human rights defenders and lawyers are still ongoing, which violates fundamental freedoms.
“We have all seen the reports on the situation in Xinjiang, with political ‘re-education camps’ targeting Uighurs and other minorities, mass surveillance, restrictions on travel,” she said.
The Xinjiang region is home to 13 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 percent of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.AA