Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Situation in Tibet

Delivered in Plenary - 26th March 2008

Mr President

The recent brutal suppression of the Tibetan protestors is hardly surprising, given the People’s Republic of China’s long track record of totally ignoring human rights and democratic freedoms. We here, of course, are all calling on the Beijing authorities to exercise maximum restraint and to respect the cultural autonomy and unique way of life of the Tibetan people, and to stop demonising the Dalai Lama.

China has a lamentable history of executing more people than anywhere else in the world, including for so-called ‘economic crimes’. It represses unregistered religious minorities and believes in state censorship, including that of the internet which, to its shame, Google has colluded with. Nevertheless, the economic might and global importance of China in security terms means that EU leaders, such as UK Prime Minister Brown on his recent visit to Beijing, are reluctant to raise these issues with the authorities for craven fear of jeopardising foreign investments. Nevertheless, many – in this House and elsewhere – are, understandably, now calling for a boycott of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, if not for a total boycott of the Games themselves.

What is more surprising, in my view, is the double standards of the West. Last month, many EU States and the USA – ignoring international law and citing humanitarian interventionism – unilaterally recognised the independence of Kosovo, dismembering Serbia. However, we in the West remain unquestioningly committed to the ‘One China’ policy, ignoring the rights of self-determination of democratic Taiwan to be allowed to even join the UN, even though Taiwan is an independent country de facto and has never been ruled by the PRC.

Speaking personally, and not for my group or my national party: surely, for the EU, re-examining the ‘One China’ policy would be a far more effective way of signalling our displeasure for the Chinese brutal Communist dictatorship.