General policy debate on the situation in China
- Parliamentary Assembly
- Assembly debate on 26 June 2008
(25th Sitting) (see Doc.
11654, report of the Political Affairs Committee, rapporteur:
Mr Mignon). Text adopted by the Assembly on
26 June 2008 (25th Sitting).
1. The Parliamentary Assembly presents
its condolences to the Chinese nation for the victims of the earthquakes
which hit the country so terribly. It welcomes the swiftness with
which assistance was provided to the population, although it regrets
that the Chinese military was instructed to protect the military
installations instead of immediately assisting the affected population.
2. The Assembly wishes to pay tribute to the tremendous progress
China has made in recent decades, especially with its economy, which
is flourishing, its foreign policy, which is designed to create
a stable international environment conducive to the pursuit of the
country’s development, and its key role as a mediator in numerous
3. This progress, appreciable as it may seem, has, however, been
followed neither by significant reforms of the political system
nor by the necessary progress in the protection of human rights,
as proved, among other things, by the increased repression conducted
by the Chinese Communist Party on groups of dissidents. China cannot
remain a leading economic power unless it succeeds in extending
the benefits of its economic development to the population at large.
4. The Assembly reaffirms that the principles on which the fundamental
rights of human beings rest are universal. It notes that, like the
47 member states of the Council of Europe, the People’s Republic
of China has ratified the United Nations Charter. While respecting
the diversity of cultural approaches, it considers that the promotion
of these principles should not stop at the borders of the 47 member
states of the Council of Europe.
5. The Assembly therefore believes that it has a duty to look
into the political situation in China and to voice its concern over
the situation in respect of human rights and democracy. In doing
so, the Assembly is not seeking to impose its point of view on China
unilaterally, but believes it is fulfilling the vocation it has
had ever since it was established.
6. In the light of the core values for which the Council of Europe
stands, the Assembly is ready to open a dialogue with the Chinese
authorities on a whole range of matters of common interest, in particular
human rights, democracy and the rule of law, in order to encourage
China to pursue reforms in these fields.
7. The Assembly is convinced that the diversity of cultural approaches
with China can only be a source of mutual enrichment, particularly
through political, intercultural and interfaith dialogue.
8. As the organiser of the 2008 Olympic Games, China has a unique
opportunity to demonstrate to the world not only its organisational
ability but also its determination to improve its record in the
field of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. There are
many in China and elsewhere in the world who have high expectations
of progress in this respect on the occasion of the Olympic Games.
The Assembly regrets that these expectations have so far not been
9. The Assembly is, however, concerned that, two months from
the opening of the Olympic Games, basic freedoms, such as freedom
of expression and association, are still not guaranteed. Chinese
citizens who voice their views, criticise the government, post articles
on the Internet, give interviews to foreign journalists or practise
their religion beyond the confines of government-controlled places
of worship are still at risk.
10. Access to information is limited and the Internet and the
press are subject to tight censorship. Moreover, the death penalty
continues to be applied. Abusive forms of administrative detention
are still widespread; arbitrary detention and imprisonment, torture
and harassment of human rights activists, including union activists,
lawyers and journalists, are common. Discrimination against rural
migrants, ethnic minorities and women is also widespread.
11. The Assembly condemns the violent repression of demonstrations
which have taken place over the past months in Tibet and neighbouring
regions, which led to arrests, disappearances and deaths.
12. At the same time, the Assembly is encouraged by the renewed
– albeit informal – talks which took place on 4 May 2008 in southern
China between envoys of the Dalai Lama and representatives of the
Chinese authorities. This was a laudable initiative.
13. The Assembly does not wish to condemn China outright, but
rather questions the political functioning of the Chinese communist
regime, which stands far from the principles of modern democracies.
In this context, the Assembly urges the Council of Europe
member states and the international community to:
14.1 continue to discuss with China
the major challenges of our constantly changing world and try to solve
them together, in such fields as climate change, the fight against
terrorism and against trafficking in human beings;
14.2 adopt a consistent and coherent approach with regard to
China, aimed at bringing about tangible progress in the field of
human rights, democracy and the rule of law;
14.3 exert individual influence on China to persuade it to
engage in a substantive dialogue regarding Tibet and neighbouring
The Assembly calls on the Government of the People’s Republic
of China to:
15.1 engage in a frank
and sincere dialogue with the member states of the Council of Europe
so that the major challenges of our constantly changing world can
be solved together;
15.2 respect its ratification of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, as all the Council of Europe member states should
15.3 implement far-reaching reforms regarding respect for human
rights, democracy and the rule of law, including after the end of
the Olympic Games;
15.4 take concrete steps to fulfil its promise to improve its
record in respect of fundamental freedoms, for example by lifting
the Internet blockade, releasing the so-called “cyberdissidents”,
ending house arrests of human rights activists, stopping harassing
and arresting members of religious communities, including Falun
Gong practitioners, stopping the arbitrary detention, harassment
and unfair dismissal of reporters and journalists, and guaranteeing
freedom of movement and reporting for both domestic and foreign
journalists during and after the Olympic Games;
15.5 end the crackdown on activists raising human rights concerns;
15.6 continue the dialogue with Tibetan representatives on
the situation in Tibet;
15.7 consider setting up a truth and reconciliation commission
to allow both Chinese and Tibetans to deal with the legacy of the
conflict in this region and to reconstitute the history of abuses
committed and injustices suffered on all sides.
16. The Assembly invites the Chinese Parliament to engage in a
political dialogue in order to promote parliamentary democracy,
the rule of law and respect for human rights. Once China will have
accomplished appreciable progress in these fields, the Chinese Parliament
will be able to apply for observer status with the Assembly.
17. The Assembly, and the Council of Europe in general, have gathered
considerable experience in the field of democracy. The Assembly,
while aware that it is up to each democracy to choose its own approach,
is prepared to offer the benefit of this experience.
18. The Assembly encourages the European Union to continue to
raise such issues as the death penalty, torture and inhuman and
degrading treatment or punishment, the situation of human rights
activists, media freedom and freedom of expression in its political
and human rights dialogue with China.
19. Finally, the Assembly is ready to send a delegation of parliamentarians
for a fact-finding visit to China in order to gather in the field
more information on the current situation in the country.