January 8, 2018 9:48:27 pm
Human Rights Watch on Monday called on French President Emmanuel Macron, currently on his first official visit to China, to urge Beijing to improve its human rights situation. Macron was expected to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and sign various bilateral agreements, Efe new agency reported. He is the first European leader to travel to China after Xi renewed his five-year mandate as head of the Communist Party in November 2017.
According to HRW France Director Benedicte Jeannerod, Macron must follow through on his commitment to demand greater respect for human rights as he himself said that “France’s diplomatic and economic imperatives with China cannot justify cover-up of the question of human rights”. “If Macron is serious about promoting liberty and democracy worldwide, he should arrive with a long list for President Xi and other Chinese leaders,” Jeannerod said in a statement.
HRW also urged the French President to publicly reiterate call for full freedom of movement for Liu Xia, widow of the late dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who is still under house arrest.
Macron, as part of his state visit was also urged to discuss that how French companies can operate in China given rising Internet censorship and the restrictions on virtual private networks that allow users to circumvent the digital blockade. HRW also said that Macron must further express concerns about China’s anti-rights conduct against the UN and Interpol.
Official French sources told Efe that rebalancing trade relations with Beijing is a major priority of the visit as France has a deficit with China of around $36 billion, the largest of its foreign trade.
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