01/30/2009, 00.00
CHINA - EU
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Wen Jiabao and Barroso talk about the economy. Silence on human rights

The next China-EU summit is in April. The theme: presenting a united front on the economic crisis; commercial and cultural cooperation; joint work on the climate. Taiwanese, Tibetans, Falun Gong, and Amnesty International are calling for efforts on human rights, but with no results. On February 9, China must undergo its periodic examination on human rights by the UN commission in Geneva.

Brussels (AsiaNews) - China and the European Union agree on holding a summit on the economy and trade as soon as possible. The announcement was made by prime minister Wen Jiabao and by Manuel Barroso, president of the EU commission, at the end of a meeting held today in Brussels. Wen arrived yesterday evening at the general headquarters of the EU, as part of his "journey of trust" to a few European countries.

Together, they decided to hold the second China-EU forum by April of 2009. The meeting had been scheduled for last December, while France held the rotating presidency, but China refused to participate after Nicolas Sarkozy decided to meet with the Dalai Lama in Gdansk.

The meeting between Wen and the EU commission touched upon various themes: preparation for the G20 in London; the fight against climate change; air traffic; clean energy; cooperation in education and research.

Because of the global economic crisis, China wants to extend its trade relations with the EU, given the drop in foreign demand that is forcing many Chinese factories to close. The EU also wants to extend its commercial ties, calling for a lowering of import tariffs in China, and an adjustment in the balance of payments.

The issue of human rights seems to be water under the bridge. In recent months, the European parliament invited the Dalai Lama to speak in Brussels, and awarded the Sakharov Prize to the activist Hu Jia, in prison for publishing articles about democracy on the internet.

Tibetans, Taiwanese, members of Falun Gong continue to ask the EU to take a stance on human rights violations in China, but these appeals seem to be falling on deaf ears. Amnesty International has also asked for greater effort on the part of the EU for the liberation of Hu Jia and in favor of dissent, especially in view of the periodic examination on human rights at the UN in Geneva, to which China must submit next February 9.

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