Archive for February 11th, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Action Plan on Human Rights

Jun Jie translated an article on the UN Human Rights Council’s session in Geneva. It describes the positions of the Council’s members, and refers to Beijing’s action plan for human rights.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Parliamentarians in Beijing

“We hope the French can attach great importance to the core concerns of China“, said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu on a routine press conference yesterday. For sure, one can’t accuse Jean-Pierre Raffarin, former French prime minister, of spoiling the atmosphere:

We in France have understood the messages expressed by the Chinese authorities both on the occasion of the report on the European-Chinese summit and the European trip of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao, we have taken these messages serious, and we wish to take part in the easing of tensions which have arisen in our bilateral relations.

I need to start writing footnotes already. The above quote comes from le responsable of the French delegation which is now in Beijing and led by Raffarin. Le responsable is probably Raffarin himself – if not, it’s his chief adjutant on his trip. And another footnote: French is a language differénte from English. No kidding. The easing of tensions reads l’apaisement des tensions in French. It’s easing, isn’t it?

Which leads to the inevitable question: Is president Sarkozy a cheese-eating surrender monkey?

Both Raffarin and Sarkozy are members of the UMP (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire). But Raffarin was arguably closer to Jacques Chirac‘s positions on matters like the US-led invasion of Iraq (strongly opposed to that), or to China’s interpretation of the one-China policy (strongly in favor). During a state visit to China in April 2005, Raffarin supported Beijing’s “anti-secession” law on Taiwan and vowed to keep pushing for an end to an EU arms embargo that could open the door for Paris to sell weapons to Beijing, calling the EU’s trade barrier anachronistic. During his visit then, China Eastern Airlines and Shenzhen Airlines signed a deal with the European consortium Airbus to buy a total of 10 A319/A320 planes, according to Deutsche Welle.

And Raffarin remained a GFotCP (Great Friend of the Chinese People) ever after. In April 2008, he declared that “China has left the dictatorial road”.

There isn’t too much reason to expect that Sarkozy will refrain from meeting the jackal from Dharamsala in the future. If Raffarin is the good cop, Sarkozy, also in April 2008, only didn’t want to see Beijing “under the ban of human kind”. (That’s bad-cop with moderation, I’d say.)

According to Le Figaro, M. Raffarin is not sent by Nicolas Sarkozy. But he can, on the occasion of his visit, pass on some messages.

Chinese netizens eyed the olive branch offered by Paris with cautious optimism as former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is visiting the country to mend soured bilateral relations. (China Daily)

I’m cautiously optimistic, too. Cautiously optimistic that European leaders will continue to take care of their appointment diaries on their own. But I’m not taking it for granted.


According to AFP (quoted on, Raffarin leads a delegation of French parliamentarians on a private visit. Maybe the timing wouldn’t be ideal for business people at the moment.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

German Media Prize for Dalai Lama

It’s a hand-shaped, painted pottery piece on a blue Brazilian marmoreal foot. Launched by Media Control in 1992, the German Media Prize went to Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi in 2007, to Spain’s king Juan Carlos I. in 2006, and to U2’s Bono in 2005. The shape and colors of the piece itself change every year. This year, the Dalai Lama receives the prize.

Kelsang Gyaltsen, the Dalai Lama’s representative in Europe, believes that it is too early to assess how the unrests in Tibet of March 2008 have influenced Beijing’s Tibet policy. In an interview with the Voice of Germany, he describes the international participation in the Beijing Olympic Games as a great concession to the Chinese people and the Chinese [people] [correction: government], and said that the same was true for the attendance of many international dignitaries at the opening ceremony. The international community had thus emphasized that it wasn’t hostile towards China, and that China now owed the world more respect for human rights in China, and a contribution to an amicable resolution of the Tibet problem.

On a question about the cancelled EU-China summit in December after a meeting between French president Nicolas Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama, Gyaltsen argued that relations between the United States and China hadn’t been bad during George W. Bush‘s presidency, even though president Bush didn’t only meet the Dalai Lama frequently, but that the Dalai Lama had also been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

[Translation from German] This didn’t affect the good relations between the U.S. and China. […..] We believe that the Chinese government knows this: If we make a great hullabaloo and exert a sufficient amount of pressure, we can influence the Europeans. That is their calculus. We Tibetans aren’t against good relations between Europe and China. But we believe that one must keep to ones values and principles. Issues like human rights or the Tibet question must not be sacrificed for good relations. That would be mere appeasement.

Gyaltsen also suggested that the EU and Germany could help to bring the Tibetan and Chinese sides together for genuine talks.

Meantime, China’s human rights achievements were highlighted at UN Review (the UN Human Rights Council), says a People’s Daily headline. The highlighter was Li Baodong, China’s ambassador to the UN Office in Geneva.

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