Steinmeier urges China to address human rights

23rd February 2006, Comments 0 comments

23 February 2006, BEIJING - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier Thursday said he had urged China to address the precarious human rights situation during meetings with Chinese leaders in Beijing.

23 February 2006

BEIJING - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier Thursday said he had urged China to address the precarious human rights situation during meetings with Chinese leaders in Beijing.

"We express our concern regarding the protection of human rights and civil liberties in China," Steinmeier said.

"I hope that my reminders, which I have left behind, find open ears and cause reactions," he said.

Steinmeier met President Hu Jintao on Thursday, after meetings with Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing on Wednesday.

Hu said China's government had reacted "very positively" but had reached "no final decision" on a proposal to extend the world's first commercial magnetic levitation (maglev) railway line, which was built by Germany's Transrapid consortium in Shanghai.

Steinmeier said none of the Chinese officials he met in Beijing had mentioned any decision on the maglev line.

But officials from Transrapid, led by Siemens and Thyssen-Krupp, on Thursday said they had preliminary approval for a 160-kilometre extension of the line from Shanghai to Hangzhou.

The existing 30-kilometre, 1-billion-dollar line provides a link to Shanghai's international airport.

Hu also welcomed new Chancellor Angela Merkel's stressing of the continuing importance of Germany's relations with China, Steinmeier said.

He addressed human rights, restrictions of the internet and self-censorship by international internet companies in China during his main talks with Li.

He said he urged China to allow the "same freedom that is usual in our countries" on the internet.

The minister welcomed the release of dissident Yu Dongyue after he spent nearly 17 years in prison for throwing paint bombs at a portrait of former leader Mao Zedong during the pro-democracy protests in June 1989.

"I am very pleased about it and we hope that others are also released," Steinmeier said, referring to the 70 political prisoners who are still in detention since the Tiananmen Square protests.

Rights groups said Yu, a former art editor and poet, suffered physical abuse and mental illness in prison, but applications for medical parole were denied because of his refusal to confess to any crime.

Li again urged the EU to lift its arms embargo on China, which was imposed after the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

But Steinmeier said he told Li that China's new anti-secession law, which allows Beijing to attack Taiwan if the island declares independence, had changed the thinking of some EU nations on the arms embargo.

A consensus among EU nations was needed before any more discussion with China about whether to lift the embargo, he said.

Steinmeier left Beijing later on Thursday after meeting Hu on the last day of his Asia tour, which included visits to South Korea and Japan.

DPA

Subject: German news

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