China wants more human rights meetings, says Søreide
Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide (Conservatives) does not find it difficult to address human rights with China. Both countries want more meetings on the subject, she claims.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs is in Beijing, where she will meet President Xi Jinping on Tuesday. The talks were inaugurated at the turn of the month when a Norwegian Foreign Ministry (UD) delegation went to the Chinese capital for political talks on behalf of the Cabinet Minister.
– One of the matters that was mentioned in Beijing two weeks ago was that both Norwegians and Chinese want to find even more areas to meet regarding human rights. We are now going to work on this, Søreide informs NTB.
For more than ten years, until the peace prize was awarded to Liu Xiaobo in 2010, Norway was one of the very few countries in the world that had fixed, official human rights meetings with China. The dialogue took place on several levels, both at the political level and through roundtable meetings with representatives from several organisations present, including Amnesty International.
The format of possible meetings is not nailed yet.
– It is a matter of checking if there are other fora where we can discuss human rights, and now we are going to work on that, Søreide continues. She emphasises that they already have regular political consultations – which deal with the whole spectrum.
When Søreide met the Norwegian press in the Jingshan Park in Beijing on Sunday, she was pushed hard on the human rights issue. In recent times, the issue has been actualised through several disturbing reports from the mainly Muslim Xinjiang Province in China.
– The situation in Xinjiang was a separate during the political consultations that were held here two weeks ago, according to the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
She promises to take up human rights with the Chinese authorities – but will not promise that the topic is raised when she meets with the Chinese President.
– We find it quite possible to discuss these questions, there are no limitations set. We express our concern and ask our questions, she goes on to say.
After Søreide took over as Minister of Foreign Affairs in October last year, she has met her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, twice. Human rights have been a theme on both occasions.
– Particularly questions about freedom of expression and religious minorities have been emphasised, and the Chinese authorities are well aware of our concerns, she says.
Zones with no rights
I Following a recent Amnesty report, up to one million Muslim Uighurs are detained in so-called re-education camps in the Xinjiang Province. According to the report, several have been maltreated and tortured, and many are allegedly accused of being extremists based on very flimsy evidence.
The UN has asked China to release the detainees and call the camps as “zones without rights”.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Lu Kang, defended the camps on Thursday.
– To take such action to prevent and fight terrorism and extremism has largely ensured the social stability of Xinjiang and has secured the livelihood of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, Kang explains.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today