Chinese citizens are taking part in the largest mass protests against their government in decades. The popular demonstrations began after 10 people died in a fire in a high-rise block in Xinjiang, something protesters blame on strict zero-Covid restrictions.

How should Europe respond to events like this? European Council President Charles Michel is heading to China for talks, unrelated to the protests. Is it hypocritical for him not to “deliver a rebuke” to Chinese leaders? Aren’t human rights supposed to be universal?

What about events such as the World Cup in Qatar, where Europeans are told to “put politics aside” and ignore treatment of migrant workers, the arrest and abuse of LGBT people, or the repression of women’s rights?

What do our readers think? You sent us YOUR questions and comments about EU-China relations, and we forwarded them to the following politicians and experts:

First up, Alva asked: “The war in Ukraine has shown the deep dependency of the EU on the superpowers in terms of economy and security. Will this affect the EU’s role as a human rights defender in front of China? And how?”

Next, Estephany told us: “Several European countries have strengthened their bilateral relationships with China in the past years. How could that affect the EU’s intentions to pressure China to respect human rights in the Western standards?”

Finally, Peter argued: “Instead of putting out statements of human rights abuses, there should be real action, including import taxes on unfair competition and sanctions against companies that make use of forced labour and unacceptable circumstances for laborers.”

To get a response, we put these questions to:

  • Angela Stanzel, Associate, Asia Division, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)
  • Balázs Gargya, EU-China Relations, European External Action Service (EEAS)

You can see their responses in the video at the top of this post!

Is Europe really such a beacon of human rights around the world? Does an emphasis on human rights hurt Europe’s economic relations? Or should it increase pressure on countries like China and Qatar to reform? Let us know YOUR thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

13 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    EU-Reform Proactive

    Answers- which I thought should have been provided by the 27 relevant politicians first! They are tasked to do so- before we are invited to become lay judges- to ‘judge’ them all.

    Yes, ‘they’ & the DE always let us guess first! However, this does not replace a proper democratic process- but questions it!

    While all of them are too busy & owe us the answers, I/we have to search & search & search….!

    The EU website informs us:

    “In foreign policy, the EU’s ultimate decision-making body is the European Council, which comprises EU country heads of state and governments. Most foreign and security policy decisions require the agreement of all EU countries.”

    Q: Simple majority, unanimity or the casual fireside ones?

    Further, the EU foreign and security policy is explained as:

    “The EU’s joint foreign and security policy, designed to resolve conflicts and foster international understanding, is based on diplomacy and respect for international rules. Trade, humanitarian aid, and development cooperation also play an important role in the EU’s international role.”

    That’s not all- where under diplomacy are “pressure” (how many bars?), sanctions, boycotts, penalties, bans, training of foreign soldiers, exclusions and threats against some Members etc. listed? Ok, search some more……!


    In comparison- what is China’s main foreign policy?

    “China advocates peaceful negotiation and consultation so as to resolve its international disputes. China does not resort to force, or threat of force, in resolving international disputes. China maintains a reasonable national military build-up to defend its own sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

    Q: since the EU has no own sovereignty to defend, but is hell bend to abolish the sovereignties of its 27 National members- are the ‘EU values’ all what’s left on the political battlefield to defend?

    It was recorded that:

    “Earlier this year, Chinese diplomats lobbied just as furiously to prevent a United Nations debate on Beijing’s treatment of minority groups in Xinjiang. The effort paid off, with the U.N. Human Rights Council voting 19 to 17, with 11 abstentions, to reject the debate. It would have been merely a nonbinding discussion of the damning recent U.N. report on human rights abuses in Xinjiang—whose release was also subject to intense lobbying.

    Both cases have raised questions over the effectiveness of publicly criticizing human rights in other countries. On the eve of the World Cup, FIFA President Gianni Infantino attacked Qatar’s detractors, saying that “hammering and criticizing … will close more doors.” Even former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who released the Xinjiang report, said she was conflicted about this kind of “campaigning and condemning.”
    Does criticizing countries in this way make a difference?

    Does it encourage Qatari or Chinese citizens to also oppose those violations? The good news is that it may—if carried out in a careful, targeted manner. The bad news is that this kind of careful criticism is rare.”

    Before, it was Russia’s oil & gas, now another port is sold to China!
    What pressure?
    “Germany agrees to the controversial sale of Hamburg port terminal to China.”

    Which & how many strategic assets does the EU27 own in China?

    HR vs Hamburg port? Is that EU foreign aid or a strategic goal for China? China is a winning Nation- not so? EU/DE rest in peace!

    • avatar

      Hi Tristan, thanks for your comment. What type of action would you like the EU to take?

    • avatar

      I think the European Union should use its economic power to put pressure on China. Because China needs the European market to sell its goods.

  2. avatar

    Each nation, each country has its own fight!
    Organizations of humans rights all over the world shall take that fight for those they cannot speak out!

  3. avatar
    Comedies first

    Here we go: Sweden took over the rotating presidency of the EU Council on January 1. There are fears that the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats will have too much influence, now that Qatar has already recommended itself…

  4. avatar
    JT HK

    It is not the question of human rights. It is the manipulation of human to justify politician incapability to lead post-COVID social and economic recovery, to justify incapable to protect human life from the COVID, incapable to protect industries and prevent capital flee.

  5. avatar
    JT HK

    The British is sending army to Japan. G7 summit is probably focusing on sending army to protect the Japanese. The British has been an ally of Japan before WWI, China’s Shandong Peninsula to a defeated country Japan. After WWII, the US had taken over the biochemical lab of Japanese 731 army unit which formed the foundation of the current US biochemical weapon labs. Now the UK has been ultra active in fueling the Russia Ukraine war with Poland. How can should view such behaviour of the US-Japan-US alliance across the Eurasia continent over a century?…/uk-and-japan-sign…/

  6. avatar
    JT HK

    The most important human right is to survive with dignity. How many lives EU have lost during the pandemic? The right to have a job which a family can offer reasonable good living to the children is also a very important human right of EU citizens. How many job has EU lost during the pandemic, the irrational sanction of Russia and prolonged attack on Chinese human rights? These irrational acts of EU institutions are in fact against human rights of EU citizens. Open you eyes to see clearly riots, demonstrations and strikes happening all over Europe. Can you people not hear the voice of the people? Do not cheat people with your lip service on human rights. Look at what rights politicians have been stripping from citizens.

  7. avatar
    JT HK

    China has the economic size bigger than the collective of the EU. China has been the engine driving forward for global economic growth and provider of all anti-epidemic and medical equipment and affordable commodities for European people to survive the 3-year economic slump at the midst of the epidemic and the Russia and Ukraine military conflict. What capacity EU can give any pressure to China when EU industries are being stolen by the US. China is the safe haven for European industry to survive.

  8. avatar
    JT HK

    Here is another extract from the following webpage>>>…/countries-with-the-highest…/ “China was the country worldwide with the highest outbound tourism expenditure in 2021. That year, China’s outbound tourism spending amounted to nearly 106 billion U.S. dollars, showing a 19 percent decrease from 2020 and only accounting for roughly 42 percent of the value reported in 2019. Meanwhile, the United States and Germany followed in the ranking in 2021, with around 57 billion and 48 billion U.S. dollars in outbound tourism expenditure, respectively.” Can you human rights people see the political manipulation to discourage the entrance of Chinese tourists has led to enormous opportunities for post-COVID social and economic growth of Europe? Brainwashed by human rights would always make stupid and irrational decision which are causing serious damages to the whole Europe and definitely major reason for the decline of Europe.

  9. avatar
    JT HK

    When the CPC government has won the trust of over 90% of 14 billion Chinese, which means the human rights issue as fabricated by media of the West does not exists. It is better to look at the very human rights conditions in EU instead of pointing fingers to China.

  10. avatar
    JT HK

    Extracted from the follow webpage>>>…/china-number-of-outbound…/ ” China has become one of the driving forces in the global outbound tourism industry. In 2019, the number of outbound tourists from China reached nearly 155 million, almost three times as many as 2010. However, the number of outbound tourists from China dropped to around 20.3 million in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and was estimated to increase slightly in 2021.” If China’s human rights are not well protected by the government, these 155 million people would be flooding all over the world. Instead, all of them have been returning to China with satisfaction with their overseas purchases.

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