Berlin praises China on rights

29th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Germany positively assesses China’s rights record before a visit from the Chinese premier.

Berlin -- Germany's justice minister praised Beijing's "irreversible" progress on human rights and the rule of law, ahead of a visit to Berlin by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

"The Chinese are taking their own path, their so-called Chinese third way,” said Brigitte Zypries in an interview on Suedwestrundfunk radio. “I think we should respect that. We can't just say to them, you have to behave like us."

The center-left minister also reflected on various legal changes China has undergone recently. "Gradually there is movement towards introducing legal standards, and the resulting changes in society and the political system are happening slowly but they are taking place,” she said. “I believe that (this progress) is irreversible for China."

Since 2007, every death penalty must be approved by China's highest court, a change that has led to a "sharp reduction" in the number of executions, Zypries added.

Other improvements, said Zypries, include the fact that the Chinese police can no longer listen in on conversations between lawyers and defendants. Lawyers and defendants can also meet without first having to gain official permission and lawyers now have access to defendants' police files.

Wen will hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday. He is also due to speak at a German-Chinese economic forum.

Relations between Germany and China turned sour in September 2007 after Merkel met with exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in Berlin. This meeting prompted Beijing to suspend dialogue with Germany on the rule of law, a dialogue that only recently resumed.

During his European tour, Wen is also expected at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, as well as in Brussels, Spain and Britain for a round of talks that is likely to be dominated by the worsening state of the world economy.


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