EU, China voice 'differences' on human rights: Spain
The European Union and China voiced "differences of opinion" during talks on human rights in Madrid Tuesday that included discussion of the situations in the Tibet and Xinjiang regions, the Spanish foreign ministry said.
The EU also used the opportunity to hand over to China "a list of individual cases" of alleged human rights violations that it is concerned about, the ministry said in a statement, without elaborating.
The EU-China human rights dialogue has been taking place about every six months since 1995. Spain hosted the latest round as it holds the six-month rotating presidency of the bloc.
On the eve of the talks, human rights groups urged the EU to use the meeting to demand Beijing release dissidents, withdraw curbs on freedom of expression and end "arbitrary detentions."
The Spanish foreign ministry said the meeting "provided a platform for an intense and candid exchange of views... on a wide range of human rights issues."
It was "an occasion to express concerns and differences of opinion with regard to the implementation of international human rights standards in China and the EU."
It said key issues discussed included the situations in China's Tibet and Xinjiang regions.
Xinjiang's ethnic Uighurs -- a Muslim, Turkic-speaking people -- have for decades complained of Chinese political, religious and cultural oppression in the vast region abutting Central Asia.
That anger burst out into savage unrest in July 2009 in Urumqi, when Uighurs attacked members of China's dominant Han ethnic group in violence that left nearly 200 people dead, according to government figures.
China has blamed the unrest on "separatists" but provided no evidence of any organised terrorism.
Amnesty International Spain on Monday condemned the "arrest and arbitrary detention" of thousands of Uighurs in Xinjiang and called for an "independent and impartial investigation into the events of July 2009."
It also condemned the "severe restrictions on freedom of expression, association and religion in Tibet" since Beijing's March 2008 crackdown in the region.
Tuesday's talks also covered "North Korean refugees, internet freedom and the ratification by China of the" International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
China raised the issue of migrant workers in the EU, "instigation of racial hatred against ethnic minorities by political parties, unemployment and discrimination against ethnic minorities, as well as the use of torture in the fight against terrorism..," the statement said.
The EU delegation was led by Jorge Domecq, the director general of the Spanish foreign ministry, while China's was headed by his counterpart from Beijing, Chen Xu.
The US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) charged on Monday that the EU-China dialogue has "consistently failed" to produce substantive results because it is not linked to other issues such as trade, investment and the environment.
"For too long, the EU-China human rights dialogue has been a toothless talk shop which has failed to meaningfully address the Chinese government's poor record on human rights," Sophie Richardson, HRW's Asia advocacy director, said in a statement.
© 2010 AFP