Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-03-26-Speech-3-075"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the safeguarding of human rights in China does not begin and end with the Olympics. We did not await the Olympics to express our firm condemnation of the Chinese Government for failing to respect human rights and democratic guarantees. I would recall that we recently voted in this House against the proposal from the right and the conservatives to annul the embargo on arms sales to China. Then too, the background to that request was the desire of many Western governments not to compromise their dealings with Beijing. The same motive recently prompted President Bush to remove China from the list of countries committing the most severe human rights violations. Unfortunately, we have to realise that the old Latin proverb ‘ ’ (‘money does not smell’) is still extremely popular with our governments. The only point in boycotting the Olympics would be if the West really were prepared to give observance of human rights pride of place in international relations, but in that case the European Union would not only have opposed the idea of holding the Olympics in China; it would long since have included a democratic ‘observance of human rights’ clause as a binding condition in trade agreements with that country. None of this has happened, and the aim is still to protect the interests of large Western multinationals. Indeed, the value of trade between the United States and China amounts to $167 billion, and that between the European Union and China to $190 billion; 24 million Chinese workers are employed by foreign franchisees. That is why the earth’s major powers believe they should rely on China as a safety raft for their economies and tolerate its infringements of fundamental rights. Chinese capitalism was convinced that years of rapid economic growth would dampen separatist demands, but this has not been the case, primarily because the Chinese have never bothered to ask the Tibetans what model of economic growth they would like. However, Tibet is by no means the sole example of China's failure to respect human rights. We are witnessing on a daily basis the closure of numerous popular newspapers and international websites, increasing discrimination against migrant workers from rural areas, thousands of whom are, for example, excluded from health insurance, and thousands of members of Protestant, Catholic and unofficial churches being imprisoned and tortured, not to mention the repression of the Uyghur community, the forced labour camps and the death penalty, which is still widely applied to punish about 68 non-violent economic crimes. Symbolic acts are all very well, of course, but by themselves they serve only to allay our consciences. We are convinced that the months between now and the Olympics represent a unique opportunity for the international community, and in particular the European Union, to oblige the Beijing Government – not only diplomatically, but also through specific trade-related initiatives – to release all those who have been arrested, guarantee the independent media access to Tibet, and open negotiations with both the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile and the political movements leading the protests on the ground, in order to reach a peaceful, diplomatic, agreed solution that is respectful of the rights and choices of the Tibetan people."@en1

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