【Exclusive】MEP criticizes China’s human rights record, calls Taiwan beacon of hope

The Netherland’s Bastiaan Belder said China’s human rights situation is appalling and the EU should demand progress and results

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Bastiaan “Bas” Belder told Taiwan News on Thursday (May 29) that Taiwan is a democratic beacon to China.

“It is important that the future of Taiwan should depend on the political will of the inhabitants of Taiwan,” said Belder. He hopes that China can one day be a country like Taiwan, where democracy and freedom are upheld.

Belder has submitted four reports on EU-China relations to Parliament. In September 2018, it adopted Belder’s report strongly criticizing China’s appalling human rights record.

The report pointed out the situation in Xinjiang and Tibet had deteriorated tremendously after President Xi Jinping (習近平) took power. “The report touches on all aspects of the EU-China relationship,” said Belder. “The responsibilities to implement [the report] are great.”

Using press freedom as an example, Belder said China should reciprocate the openness that European countries provide to Chinese journalists. As such it should allow European journalists to travel and report freely in China. “What I asked for in the report is reciprocity from China.”

As for high-level dialogue about human rights and market openness with China, Belder opposes joint declarations with no concrete commitments that are largely ceremonial. He said the European Parliament should sit down face to face with Chinese representatives, demanding progress and results.

Belder admitted the situation in China will not change overnight. “It will take a long time and it will be a hard struggle. We should assemble facts that cannot be denied by the Chinese government and try to convince them [not to continue with their abuses.]”

Regarding Hong Kong’s controversial extradition bill that exposes individuals in Hong Kong to China’s arbitrary judicial system, Belder said he supports refusal of the extradition bill.