Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Questions (53)

Richard Boyd Barrett


53. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the efforts he and his European counterparts are making to ensure human and democratic rights in China, particularly in view of the recent protests in Hong Kong; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37381/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The protection and promotion of universal human rights is one of Ireland's core foreign policy issues, and we, along with our European counterparts, consistently raise our concerns with regard to the human rights situation in China.

At a bilateral level, Ireland and our partners in the EU discuss these matters during political and official contacts with the Chinese authorities. In April this year, the EU also raised human rights concerns with China at both the annual EU-China Summit and the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue. Ireland and the EU regularly raise human rights concerns at multilateral level, in particular at the Human Rights Council, the current session of which is underway in Geneva. Ireland also participated in China’s Universal Periodic Review last November, calling for China to respect freedom of religion and belief.

With regards to Hong Kong, Ireland and the EU have been consistent in our support for the One Country, Two Systems principle.

As I have noted previously in this House, Ireland supports the right to peaceful assembly as an important element of democracy, and has consistently encouraged restraint from violence and has encouraged engagement in inclusive dialogue.

The EU, with the support of Ireland, has issued statements in response to developments in Hong Kong. The most recent statement was released on the 17 August by High Representative Mogherini on behalf of the EU. This statement called for urgent steps to be taken to de-escalate the situation, and for all key stakeholders to engage in a broad-based and inclusive dialogue. During the current session of the Human Rights Council on 10 September, the EU also expressed support for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' call for the demonstrations to remain peaceful and for the respect of fundamental rights and freedoms, including the freedom of assembly.

In that regard, the recent overtures towards dialogue from the Chief Executive are a welcome move.

The Consulate General of Ireland in Hong Kong, along with the EU Office and representatives of other EU Member States, have been engaging regularly with the Hong Kong authorities and will continue to monitor developments.