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New EU chief takes helm amid rising suspicion of China
"New president of the EU Commission also funded lion will have spent her first night in office last tonight. Having already we think held urgent telephone call with Beijing. The expose last week on the existence of Detention Kemper Muslim leaguers has brought China's track record on human rights right to the top of our funding lines to do list. Let's look at what she in. The Commission can actually do. Let's hear from Isabel Hilton. The editor of China Dialogue. Welcome back the studio Isabel. Doing no of this phone call to take place between Oslo Funder Lion and Beijing yesterday. We don't although she did she has made Much of Saying that it would so I imagine it would also imagine she'd get pretty dusty response from Beijing. What was the intentionally the? The purpose of the phone call was literally. That's really her first day in office yesterday on the Sunday indeed. I think that there is a feeling in Europe That China has been. It's sort of general after say trend against China in the last few months in in a concern in Europe that China has too much power and abusing its power to undermine global norms including on human rights and that Europe needs to take more bust view. So I think that what we're seeing in that commitment over these really appalling abuses That you know that's what we're seeing. A new commission come in with the determination to stand up to China just remind us of what was said what was revealed last week in this expose. On the treatment of weakened Muslim there was a cache of documents. Som Four hundred which went to the New York Times A further batch that went to an international consortium of Investigative Journalism Journalists and although Ah the existence of the camp said being extremely extensively documented for more than two years now the detail of the organization and including many a a personal and telling details which included in. What do you tell a university student going home for the summer? WHO finds that? He's Oh her entire family his disappeared so it was the kind of meticulous rupp very chilling planning State directed absolutely top down To to to lock up one in ten or as far as we know of the weaker population so although the camps were known about. There's something about you know the revelation of the of the of the bones of this policy that that made people deeply deeply uncomfortable and actually highlighted the degree to which China has go away with this so far. Is Anybody greatly surprised. However about these great revelations I think many people suspected that there was a but the fact is as you say as you've been saying continually there is this buildup of evidence against China that it is Going against the beliefs Explo- uh ex- exploiting the global norms. It's sort of surprises. That surprised me that as underline sort of took it upon herself to make a fresh. I should tempted something that everybody sort of knew about anyway. Well it's true that the camps were known about because they say that the detail of the documents Really confronted Particularly Europe actually with them with the inaction although we have in fact through the year Seen a growing effort particularly by Europe to confront China over Xinjiang at the The Council on Human Rights the UN Council Counseling Human Rights Meeting in Geneva There was a letter signed by more than twenty countries calling for China to release the detainees China has put in an enormous effort in the last few years to undermining the principle of universal human rights and particularly at the UN. So for example China has been trying to advance the the premise that notable rights to equal and the right to development and state sovereignty so victory entry trump's individual human rights and that goes directly against the universal principle. It it implies that poor people Don't have rights or or don't don't desire rights which is which is nonsense and that that's completely any it's an important breach and China has managed to mobilize countries search which have An economic dependence on China to support them in Geneva in mounted very well documented campaign trying to shut out civil society actors NGOs who might criticized trying to put in a government sponsored NGOs who would sing the praises raises of China's policies and explicitly saying two countries which Had any kind of economic dependence on China there quite a lot now that if they showed stop and criticized then you know deals would not go well if they showed up and praised then they would benefit so you know. There is no doubt that China has managed to Marshal Marshall a lot of opinion on its side in the has been remarkable silence for example or endorsement for many Muslim countries. They have not criticized at China. I know I on on locking up a million Muslims for being Muslim and that's pretty remarkable So you know. We are confronted with with the situation situation in which if these rights are defended. It's come down to the European Union Australia and Canada and even the United States is not reliable ally in this so I think that for the new commission the European Union. It's a bit of a moment saying do defend the system or not. What does the e you you do? Though in terms of concrete action I mean we've seen a trade war bursts out between the United States and China and neither side into becoming coming out well from it now. The European Union's Heft when it comes to trade is enormous but you can see immediately the any sanctions that you might put on. China will be met with equally tough measures. I think that I doubt that we would see a trade war. Exactly I mean it's true that the European European Union has is an enormously important trading block for China's largest trade partner but European Union. Although doesn't speak because one over trade Except for you know the kind of You wide regulations but individual countries tend to make their own make pursue their own interests with China But the fact that the e U is willing publicly to criticize China the e you could for example push at the UN. I'm for sanctions against individuals. Who are involved with this trade? It could name and shame companies that are dealing That are installing technologies in Xinjiang And in fact it could under the principles of of human rights and business. It could sanction companies over human human rights abuses. So it's not without weapons and and I think you know put China China very much dislikes being called out on human and rights abuses in a moment when it's trying to present itself as the benign actor On the global On the global scene so simply having you who are being vigorous in terms of its criticism changes the atmosphere and gives cover to some other countries which might wish to but don't quite have the courage ridged criticize China. Finally we have the member-state ambassadors who already in Beijing being invited to Xinjiang which is where the majority if we miss them live at the beginning of next year can anything be settled on then. yes Although these visits of course are heavily managed and it wouldn't be the first time time we've had official visits to Xinjiang in which The visitors the official visit confronted with people who sing and dance and say that they're happy to be there so I didn't think anyone. Anyone has enormous illusions about about what you're seeing And I think the you made its point by By giving the Sakharov prize the alarm toady a who is a weaker intellectual as an economist at a university in In Beijing who in twenty fourteen was sent to in jail for life had all his assets confiscated leaving his family destitute in a in a savage sentence against a man who had always been of voice of reason and moderation and who was well known to journalists and indeed to ambassadors and human rights workers So I I think that you know laying down these markers important The visit will you know I. I don't know quite what such visit will achieve except that it's important wouldn't go on insisting on visits but I think that as I say The ambassador isn't Aachen have many illusions that the people that they speak to a free to speak Or they will uncover any great surprises. It will be very very carefully prepared