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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04THEHAGUE2611 2004-10-12 15:18:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy The Hague
Cable title:  

NETHERLANDS/HUMAN RIGHTS/CHINA: "DIALOGUE" OF THE

Tags:   PHUM PGOV CH NL PINR UNAUS 
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1. (U) Please see guidance request in para 10. Bionote,
para. 11.



2. (C) Summary: Dutch MFA contacts characterized the
recently concluded round of the EU Human Rights Dialogue with
China as a "dialogue of the deaf," but were certain it would
continue. Chinese "dialogue fatigue" may have contributed to
the disappointing results. The Chinese MFA has created a new
Special Representative for Human Rights to handle HR
Dialogues in the future. The EU sees positive long-term
trends in socio-economic areas, but predicts that reforms of
fundamental human rights will not be possible as long as
these are seen as challenge the state; in effect, the Chinese
elite have created a "glass ceiling" to protect their
positions against such reforms. End Summary.



3. (C) Sandra Pellegrom (MFA HR office) and Gerrie Willems
(MFA China Desk) briefed POLOFFS October 8 on the EU's recent
trip to China and the status of the HR dialogues with China
in general. Pellegrom was on the trip to Tibet and Beijing.
While they confirmed that the dialogue had been generally
disappointing (refs), Pellegrom and Willems predicted
confidently EU foreign ministers would conclude at the
October 11 GAERC that the dialogue remained useful and should
continue. They pointed out that the dialogue offers a
channel to hear one another's views and to share information
on law reform and other issues. The EU wants to encourage
ongoing progress in the fields of torture, death penalty,
reform of the education through labor system, freedom of
movement, and broad economic reforms, they noted, adding that
broad legal reforms, and growing sensitivity to legal rights
are especially welcome developments. Looking ahead,
however, Pellegrom and Willems predicted that the development
of Chinese human rights will soon hit a "glass ceiling," as
individuals try to move beyond socio-economic, legal, and
judiciary reforms to challenge state authority in the area of
"fundamental freedoms." The fact that the Chinese elite will
not tolerate such challenges will continue to create problems
for EU-Chinese relations, they said.

NEGOTIATING WITH THE CHINESE



4. (C) Pellegrom observed that one had to be on one's guard
with Chinese statements concerning human rights, which were
always technically truthful but "which skirted the edges of
the truth." She explained that Chinese precision could
easily mislead a casual listener by masking underlying
problems. For example, the Chinese averred that Chinese
people enjoy freedom of expression on the internet, "within
the limits of the law." Although Chinese laws offend the
spirit of human rights, Pellegrom said, Chinese interlocutors
insisted that they were no different than European
restrictions on pornographic internet sites.



5. (C) Pellegrom and Willems noted that, in a break from
prior dialogues, the Dutch agenda led with a discussion of
fundamental freedoms rather than easing into it gently. The
result was a "dialogue of the deaf," with the Chinese
"completely scripted and up against a concrete wall." When
EU del head Amb. Piet de Klerk, for example, named names
under various categories of political prisoners (there are 72
on the EU list), a Chinese MFA rep passed him a note asking
him to desist. According to the Dutch, the Chinese MFA said
the candid discussion was embarrassing them in front of
representatives from other ministries.

SPECIFIC ISSUES



6. (C) Death Penalty/Torture: Pellegrom said that the
situation seems to be improving, as demonstrated by new
limits on the range of cases subject to the death penalty.
The fact that the Chinese refuse to release any statistics,
however, forces the EU to rely on press and NGO reports and
therefore it cannot make a definite evaluation. With regard
to torture, the Dutch said that the Chinese realize they
"have a problem" with the EU.

7.(C) International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights
(ICCPR): According to the Dutch, China continues to work
hard (albeit behind the scenes and away from scrutiny) to get
implementing legislation in place before ratifying the
Covenant, something the EU continually presses them to do.
The Re-education through Labor program continues to make this
difficult, however, because there is no way the Chinese can
justify arbitrary detention under the ICCPR. Less troubling
for the Chinese in the run up to ratifying the ICCPR are
freedom of expression and religious freedom -- not because
the Chinese plan to relax restrictions, but because they
justify oppression by pointing to "legitimate laws" already
on the books. The Dutch noted that implementation "in the
spirit of the ICCPR" is important not only to the ICCPR but
also to the EU and made clear they will continue pressing
China on it.



8. (C) Cooperation with UN mechanisms: In this area, the
Dutch reported that the Chinese were more open than in the
past. Specifically, the presence or pending arrival of
various UN HR visitors was a welcome development.

DIALOGUE FATIGUE AND NEW SPECIAL REP FOR HR IN CHINA



9. (C) The Dutch reported that the Chinese side seemed tired
- both physically and psychologically "tired of dialogues" in
general. The Dutch surmised that the Chinese may have
"dialogue fatigue" from meeting the EU presidency twice a
year in addition to separate sessions with Germany, Hungary,
the UK, Norway and Switzerland. (Note: A Japanese Embassy
colleague also at the briefing said the last Japan/China HR
dialogue was in 2000. End Note.) The Chinese announced to
the EU delegation that the MFA had created a new position of
"Special Representative for Human Rights" who will handle all
HR dialogues from now on, but provided no details about the
new office.



10. (C) Action Requests: The Dutch asked for information
on the status of the USG dialogue with China and at what
level they meet with us. Regarding the new Chinese "Special
Representative for Human Rights, the Dutch asked if we had
heard of this development and if we knew at what level of
seniority the new office would operate.



11. (C) BIO NOTE: Shang Jun - The Dutch reported that his
normal harsh jokes and direct manner could not hide the fact
he was tired; they mentioned he has heart trouble.
SOBEL