Written Answers. - Human Rights in China.

Michael P. Kitt


16 Mr. M. Kitt asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has satisfied himself that the international community is taking action to strengthen human rights safeguards in the People's Republic of China; and if he will urge the United Nations human rights bodies to effectively monitor these issues. [8273/96]

Kathleen Lynch


33 Kathleen Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps, if any, the Government has taken to establish contacts with Chinese representatives in such a way that it can monitor development on human rights issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8357/96]

I propose taking Questions Nos. 16 and 33 together.

The Government has engaged the Chinese authorities consistently, on a bilateral basis, on issues of human rights in the People's Republic of China.

I have had lengthy discussions with the Chinese Vice-Premier and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Qian Qichen, on a wide range of human rights issues in China, most recently on the occasion of the latter's official visit to Ireland in October 1995. Individual human rights issues are raised on an ongoing basis as, for instance, when I raised with the Chinese Ambassador, earlier this year, the question of the conditions in Chinese orphanages.

Ireland has also played an active role regarding the question of human rights in China in the framework of the European Union's Common Foreign and Security Policy. In recent months, the EU has made representations to the Chinese authorities on a number of specific issues, notably the further imprisonment of Wei Jingsheng; the health conditions of the imprisoned Chen Ziming; and the safety and well-being of the Dalai Lama's choice as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama. Ireland participated as a member of the EU Troika in the ongoing EU/China human rights dialogue meeting which took place in Beijing in January 1996.
At the current 52nd Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, the EU tabled a draft Resolution on the situation of human rights in China. The EU proposal recalled the Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action which reaffirmed the obligation of all member states to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to fulfil the obligations they have undertaken under international instruments in this field. I regret to state that, on 23 April, a procedural "no action" motion was carried and that this prevents further consideration of the EU proposal at the present session.
China is already a party to a number of international human rights instruments, notably the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, there are other international human rights conventions to which China is not yet a party. Ireland would welcome China's early accession to the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In addition, Ireland welcomes the forthcoming visits to China by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Director of the UN Centre for Human Rights, and the Chairman of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention with a view to even more effective monitoring of the human rights situation in China.