Warned by the Chinese government before his recent visit to China not to interfere in the country’s “internal affairs,” French President Emmanuel Macron seems to have chosen silence over any public criticism of serious violations under Chinese President Xi Jinping.
President Macron’s various public statements during his visit to China last week were remarkable, for what went unsaid more than their substance.Given the enormity of human rights abuses in China, the French president had an important opportunity to publicly press his Chinese hosts on a slew of issues.
But Macron made no public mention of the Chinese government’s mass repression campaign against Muslims in Xinjiang, including the arbitrary detention of about one million people.
Not a word about IlhamTohti, a prominent Uighur economist recently awarded the prestigious Sakharov Prize, who is languishing in prison.
And nothing about China crushing peaceful activism throughout the country.
In a letter, Human Rights Watch urged Macron to use his visit to publicly call on the Chinese government to close the “political education” camps in Xinjiang, free unjustly detained critics of the government, and commit to respecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.
But the Uyghurs, detained activists, and other people persecuted under Xi’s brutal tenure cannot count on any public criticism from Macron.
Macron was happier talking about business: USD15 billion in contracts were reportedly signed with French companies during Macron’s visit. The French president also inaugurated the new Pompidou Museum in Shanghai and lobbied for the filming of the new adventures of the Gallic comic strip hero Asterix to take place in China.
Despite overwhelming evidence of China’s systematic human rights violations, many world leaders still claim to pursue only “quiet diplomacy” with China. But quiet persuasion has not generated sufficient pressure for Xi to incur a cost for his brutal repression. Keeping publicly silent in the face of such abuses as Macron did only encourages Xi to continue down the same road. (Source: HRW)