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Cablegate: Human Rights: China´S Dialogue Partners Have Mixed

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INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1399
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN 075
RUEHUP/AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST 0052
RUEHBY/AMEMASSY CANBERRA 9258
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIJING 015437

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/26/2031

TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI CH

SUBJECT: HUMAN RIGHTS: CHINA´S DIALOGUE PARTNERS HAVE MIXED

VIEWS ON EXCHANGES

Classified By: Ambassador Clark T. Randt, Jr. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).

Summary

-------

1. (C) Countries that conduct formal human rights
dialogues with China are disappointed that the
exchanges rarely yield immediate, tangible results,
contacts at foreign embassies in Beijing told us.
Nonetheless, most dialogue partners judged that the
exercise remains useful as a forum a) to express human
rights concerns to the Chinese and b) to push for
systemic change over the long term. Officials from
Bern Process missions here point to a 2005 report from
Ottawa on Canada´s dialogue with China as a useful
assessment of the current picture. Frustration with
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs´ role as a
"goalkeeper" that fends off international questions on
human rights issues persists. China´s dialogue
partners said their exchanges are considerably better
when Government organs other than the MFA are
involved. In addition, some countries have tried to
alter the nature of their exchanges to add value. End
Summary.

The Canadian Report
-------------------

2. (C) Poloff contacted human rights officers at
Embassies from several countries that maintain human
rights dialogues with China to gauge what results
their dialogues are yielding. (Note: Countries with
human rights dialogues with China include Australia,
Canada, the European Union, Germany, Hungary, Japan,
Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland
and the United Kingdom.) Many pointed to a report
commissioned by the Canadian Government and completed
by Canadian scholar Charles Burton as emblematic of
their own experiences at the table with the Chinese
(poloff has an electronic copy of the report that can
be sent on the unclassified system, contact
xxxx). The report stated that the
bilateral human rights dialogue process is
indispensable as it allows a forum for Western
governments to voice their concerns about human rights
violations in China. But worries persist that the
substantive effect of the dialogues is insufficient.
The report cites the following examples, among others:
-- the Chinese take up much time in the formal
meetings reading scripts;
-- there is little connection between the dialogues
and progress on human rights on the ground;
-- China´s MFA has downgraded the level of its head of
delegation and has reduced staff in its Human Rights
Division and
-- responses to the lists of cases of concern are not
as complete as Canada wants and degrees of
responsiveness vary significantly year to year.

3. (C) At the same time, foreign engagement with the
Chinese on human rights has paid some dividends, the
report related, such as development of legislation to
address violence against women and sexual harassment
and improved procedures in police conduct and prison
management. But on important issues of concern to
Canada, such as those relating to religious freedom,
labor rights and rights of ethnic minorities, progress
has been scant.

Disappointing Results
---------------------

4. (C) Canada´s disappointment is shared by other
Beijing missions. Two years ago, the EU introduced
benchmarks in the dialogue context to measure progress
on China´s human rights record, said xxxx.
The benchmarks included, among
other criteria, ratification of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, cooperation in
various UN mechanisms, abolition of the practice of
re-education through labor and release of Tiananmen-
era prisoners. But the introduction of these
benchmarks has not produced the immediate, measurable
results that the EU or its NGO community is looking
for, xxxx remarked.

5. (C) The Netherlands views its recent human rights
dialogues as disappointing, said xxxx of the
xxxx Embassy. She described the last iteration, in
December 2005, as "unfortunate," with the Chinese side
taking up much time complaining about UN Rapporteur on
Torture Manfred Nowak´s China trip report. Against
this backdrop, tangible results have been few and far
between, she said. Meanwhile, Canada´s report related
that each of its nine rounds of dialogue to date have
included the presentation of a list of "cases of
concern" consisting of names of people currently in
prison or in re-education through labor camps in
China. The Chinese MFA has asked Canada to no longer
request information on these cases of concern. The
MFA argues that Canada´s urging the Chinese Government
to reconsider the incarceration of certain Chinese
citizens is inconsistent with the principle of the
independence of the judiciary.

Focus on Long-Term Change
-------------------------

6. (C) Progress on human rights in China is due to
sustained and coordinated international pressure and
the concerted efforts of interested countries, xxxx
of the Dutch Embassy argued. Advances come in
increments, she said, via focus on institutional
change. xxxx of the Norwegian Embassy
separately made a similar point, adding that her
mission´s goal is to achieve long-term, systemic and
practical results, rather than to be "high-flying."
This involves providing teaching materials for
prisoners, expanding contact between Norway and
China´s Ministries of Justice and so on. The role of
the human rights dialgues is to smooth the way for
such contacts. Human Rights officers at other
missions all made remarks to a similar effect.

Trying to Improve the Exchange
------------------------------

7. (C) With the exception of the downbeat Dutch, all
the officers we spoke with said their countries value
the bilateral human rigts dialogues and intend to
continue the exchanges. (Note: The Dutch gave no
indication that they intend to cut off the exchanges;
they just expressed skepticism about their worth.) The
key now is to improve them and try to coax better
results. Canberra is looking for ways to keep its
dialogue with China from getting stale, said
Australian xxxx. The
bilateral Agreement on Technical Cooperation is a net
plus in this regard, she said. The ATC involves USD
1.6 million in programs (such as law enforcement
training) that allow the Australian Government to
engage on human rights issues with agencies other than
the MFA. The funds constitute a drop in the ocean,
xxxx remarked, but the ATC allows the Australians to
discuss with the Chinese issues that were taboo 10
years ago, such as prison conditions and torture.

Frustration with the MFA
------------------------

8. (C) Germany is trying to gradually expand the
scope of its human rights dialogue with China, said
German xxxx. "We are taking a long view and we hope to see
change over time," she said. Echoing the views of
nearly every human rights officer we spoke with, xxxx
said the dialogues are most useful when the
MFA´s role is minimized. "The MFA is the goalkeeper
and they can´t change anything," xxxx
complained. Rather, the MFA´s role is only to fend
off foreign questions about human rights issues and
promote a positive view of China internationally.
Meetings with other ministries -- Justice, Public
Security -- in the context of the human rights
dialogue are much more useful. In a similar vein,
Canada´s report notes that while the MFA´s mandate in
this exercise is to defuse foreign unease with China´s
human rights record, there is interest among Chinese
non-MFA participants in the dialogue in seeing what
aspects of Canada´s advanced experience can be of
benefit to China´s own development.
RANDT

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