Written Answers. - Human Rights in China.

Tony Killeen

Ceist:

104 Mr. Killeen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the action, if any, which has been taken during Ireland's Presidency of the EU to advance human rights in the People's Republic of China. [16613/96]

On 23 September 1996, I led the EU Ministerial Troika at a meeting in New York with the Chinese Vice-Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Qian Qichen. I availed of the opportunity to pursue the question of human rights in the People's Republic of China, which I have raised in previous meetings with the Vice Premier. One of the matters I raised with him was the question of the continuation of the EU Troika/China Human Rights' Dialogue at expert level. This Dialogue was initiated in 1995 in order to discuss the whole spectrum of human rights issues in China. The inaugural meeting took place in Brussels in January 1995, while a second meeting — with participation from Ireland — was held in Beijing in January 1996. The Chinese side indicated that they would like to study the matter further before agreeing to a continuation of the Dialogue. I am anxious that an early agreement should be reached on this point and am hopeful that there will be a positive response from China.

The position of the EU in relation to human rights in China is set out in its Memorandum to the 51st UN General Assembly, which accompanied the address I delivered on behalf of the Union at the General Assembly yesterday. A copy of the Memorandum is being placed in the Library of the Houses of the Oireachtas. The EU at the Florence European Council acknowledged the efforts and progress made by China in restructuring its economy and starting to develop the rule of law. However the EU is looking for more committed respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. To improve its relations with China, the EU has implemented a political dialogue framework which provides for regular consultation at all levels. In addition to the experts dialogue on human rights to which I have already referred, the human rights issue is also addressed at other political dialogue meetings.

The EU is concerned about the human rights situation in China, including Tibet, and in particular the treatment of political dissidents and the fate of the Panchen Lama. It has urged China to implement legislation and other positive measures in the human rights field, particularly the early accession to and ratification of the international convenants on civil and political rights and on economic, social and cultural rights. The Irish Presidency is pursuing these concerns actively.