Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Human Rights violations in China

Delivered in Plenary - 21st January 2010

Mr President

The fact that yet again in this House we are debating human rights abuses in China indicates that the Communist authoritarian leadership of Beijing remains determined to suppress any political dissent.

However, that fact should not stop us from raising these issues in Parliament. I believe not only that we have a duty to do so, but that we owe it to the victims of human rights abuses in China such as Liu Xiaobo, most of whom have been denied a voice. This is why we are debating this matter again today.

Indeed, the award of the Sakharov Prize in 2008 to Hu Jia showed the world how seriously we MEPs take the issue of human rights in China. We take it seriously because China really matters. Its vast size and global outreach, its military muscle and economic power compel the EU to seek a strategic partnership based on mutual respect and security.

Perhaps eventually our relationship with China will also be based on our common values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law: we can but hope. I think all of us hope, nevertheless, to see the day when we will really see this in practice in the People’s Republic of China. It has been suggested that such ideals are somehow alien to Asia. I always look to democratic Taiwan and vast India with its democratic secular traditions, where these flourish in a free society, to basically put a lie to the idea that the PRC cannot be democratic.