Royal Confronts China with Human Rights Abuses

January 14, 2007 Updated: January 14, 2007

During a three-day visit to Beijing, the Socialist candidate for the French presidency, Segolene Royal, urged China to meet its international human rights obligations.

Royal was recently nominated to run for the presidency in 2007. Frontrunner in the latest polls, this 53-year-old Socialist has a good chance of becoming the first female French president. Her three-day visit to China, which began on January 7, aims to bolster her international credentials.

Raising Human Rights Issues to Chinese Communist Regime

According to AFP, Royal raised human rights issues during her meeting with high officials of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), stating that guarding people's human rights and quality of life should become the common interest of all countries.

In a press conference in Beijing, Royal said, “The question of human rights should not be delinked from other problems… It is necessary to link economic development, environmental protection and the development of social rights.”

Royal Urges China to Stop Jailing Lawyers and Journalists

When visiting the Forbidden City in Beijing, Royal criticized the CCP for jailing lawyers, journalists and grass root human rights activists. She urged China to stop doing so, especially as it had signed international human rights agreements.

During a lunch meeting with officials of the International Department of CCP, Royal handed a list containing the names of two lawyers and three journalists jailed in China and relevant material to the Vice Minister, Zhang Zhijun, and demanded answers on what has happened to those on the list.

Publicly and High-key

Before Royal left for China, French journalists rights organization Reporters Without Borders called on Royal to request the release of imprisoned journalists and Internet users during her trip.

The spokesperson of Reporters Without Borders, Vincent Brossel expressed his satisfaction with Royal's human rights talk in China.

According to Voice of America, Brossel also compared Royal with current French President Jacques Chirac, criticizing the latter for his weak policy toward China's human rights situations.

Earlier, a new guide co-produced by the French Tourism Ministry advises businesspeople to avoid topics on China's human rights violations and political issues when negotiating with the Chinese.

Human rights organizations said it is ironic that such advice is given by the government of a country that claims a common ideal of “freedom, equality and fraternity.” Such advice brings shame on French values, according to the organizations.

The International Standing of the French Government is Improved

Professor Yang Dali of Chicago University said in an interview with Radio Free Asia that Royal's efforts to help the persecuted lawyers and journalists in China would help improve the international standing of the French government.

Yang said, “In a sense, the French government has built a negative image in the Western world, and is criticized for focusing on doing business and ignoring other problems such as human rights issues. In this respect, Royal's raising such topics with the CCP would help change the image of the French government and her political leaders.”

CCTV Did Not Mention Royal's Human Rights Talks

On its English website, China Central TV (CCTV) reported on Royal's visit in an article titled “France´s Royal Calls for Investment in China,” in which there was not a single mention of human rights.

Sima Tai, an American news commentator, said that Ms. Royal was wise in publicly addressing China's human rights violations. He said that the CCP did not dare to report on Royal's talks because this is what it fears most.

Sima pointed out that although the whole world knows about China's notorious human rights abuses, most governments have not publicly addressed this issue. Some governments are even suffocating media voices on this topic. Sima said this is because the CCP made deals with many Western countries and made them agree not to publicly criticize China's human rights violations. The CCP has taken pains to silence the world.

“Without the pressure from the international community and the public,” said Sima, “the CCP is running riot. These Western countries have been cheated by the CCP, because human rights negotiations under the table will never work.”