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June 15, 2012

China, EU disagree on human-rights talks

EU Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton. (UPI/Ismael Mohamad)

BRUSSELS (UPI) -- China wants to hold human-rights talks with the European Union only once a year with less time spent on individual cases, its EU embassy says.

A spokeswoman for Catherine Ashton, the EU policy chief, responded by saying the organization is "keen" to hold two rounds of talks a year, EUobserver reported.

China and the EU have been holding the talks for 16 years. In the past two years, China simply refused to join second rounds of discussions, and a second round has not been scheduled for 2012 after the first one May 29 in Brussels.

"We look forward to more system-building and policymaking that would improve and protect human rights on a general level," Wang Xining, a spokesman for the Chinese mission to the EU, said. "But in my view, maybe we spend too much time and energy on the individual cases."

International advocacy group Human Rights Watch suggested the talks are a sham and the EU's main concern with China is trade.

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