Target: EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton
Goal: Encourage the European Union to use the upcoming EU-China Summit as an opportunity to pressure China to improve its human rights record
Despite the continued documentation of grievous human rights abuses in China, the European Union (EU) has a demonstrated track record of hesitance and inaction when it comes to standing against these unacceptable policies of the world’s most populous country. On September 20, the EU will have the opportunity to address this important foreign policy oversight at the EU-China Summit in Brussels, Belgium. The EU, in keeping with the adoption of its June 25, 2012 human rights package, is required to promote human rights, democracy, and the rule of law without exception when dealing with all foreign countries, including strategic partners. Unfortunately, fear of jeopardizing important economic ties and a lack of unanimous agreement among European states have kept the EU silent in the past.
Human Rights Watch, an international organization responsible for holding world leaders accountable for human rights, has registered numerous infractions in China in 2012 alone. Examples abound. Increasingly limited freedoms of expression, movement, and religion for Tibetans have most likely been a contributing factor in the rise of self-immolation, a ritualistic suicide often used as a form of protest. Over 4,000 Kachin refugees have been forced to return to an active conflict zone in northern Burma. Chinese security forces continue to gain power and influence unchecked. And perhaps most alarmingly, a newly adopted National Human Rights Action Plan will serve to greatly weaken previously made Chinese commitments to the universality of human rights. The European Union, as a powerful voice in international relations, has an obligation to stand up against such blatant human rights violations.
The Chinese government has repeatedly petitioned to change the number of EU-China human rights dialogues from two meetings a year to only one. Such a request viewed in light of China’s continued failure to meet international human rights obligations and coming after a long history void of any meaningful progress made despite the dialogues’ goals is troubling. Rather than canceling the dialogues, both China and the EU should continue to revisit the pressing human rights issues at stake and strive to establish useful benchmarks to measure success.
Tell the EU to play its part in the international arena and pressure the Chinese government to fulfill its commitments to the Chinese people.
Dear High Representative Ashton,
As the upcoming EU-China Summit approaches, I encourage you to remember the values that the European Union stands for and to pressure China to stop its many human rights abuses. China can not be allowed to continue watering down its commitment to human rights and must be made to fulfill its international obligations. A powerful international entity such as the EU has a responsibility to stand firm against infringements to international law and has the opportunity to strengthen both international law and the global community as a whole at the upcoming summit.
In an era plagued by war, terrorism, and violence so often marked by attacks on the weakest of the international citizenry, the EU has the chance to repudiate this tragic trend. Please take action to protect those human rights the Chinese government continues to violate.
[Your Name Here]
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