Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (237)

Finian McGrath


354 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will raise the case of a person (details supplied) with the Chinese authorities in Tibet; and if he will support a proposal for a special EU representative for Tibet. [1164/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

The case referred to by the Deputy has been raised with the Chinese authorities. In a declaration issued in January 2003, the European Union expressed its concern regarding this case, urged the Chinese authorities to review it and expressed its expectation that the death sentence would not be upheld.

In addition, the case has been raised with the Chinese authorities in the context of the EU-China human rights dialogue and is subject to ongoing discussions with the Chinese authorities in the framework of this dialogue. The dialogue was established in 1996 in order to provide a platform for engagement with China on human rights issues, allowing the EU to channel human rights concerns, including individual cases, directly to the Chinese authorities. The next session of the dialogue will take place next month. The individual to whom the Deputy refers will remain on the EU's list of individual cases, which will be presented to the Chinese authorities for discussion at the February dialogue session.

Regarding the question of the appointment of an EU special representative for Tibet, I refer the Deputy to my previous replies of 6 November, 2 December and 6 December 2003 and to exchanges in the House on 11 December 2003. These replies stated that in March 2002, the Dalai Lama wrote to the Foreign Ministers of EU member states, including myself, asking that an EU special representative for Tibet be appointed. In a joint response at that time, EU Ministers were unanimously of the view that nominating an EU special representative would not contribute positively to the situation.

This position was reconsidered at the end of last year and it was decided the position had not changed. It remains the common view of EU partners therefore that, in present circumstances, the most effective means of influencing the Chinese Government's position on Tibet is through direct contact.