Helsingin Sanomat (Finland): Prime Minister Lipponen defends President Halonen's remarks on human rights in China

Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen (Soc. Dem.) came to the defence of President Tarja Halonen on Thursday, after her positive statements on developments in human rights in China drew some criticism from Parliamentarians.

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Finland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja (Soc. Dem.), who accompanied President Halonen on her visit to China, had told Prime Minister Lipponen that Finland had brought up human rights issues and problems during political talks held during the visit.

On Thursday Tuomioja met China's Deputy Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing in Beijing. The discussions touched upon human rights, and Tuomioja raised some critical views. Tuomioja asked about the possible ratification of human rights agreements by China; the issue has been discussed for years, but there has been no ratification. Deputy Foreign Minister Li said that preparations are being made for the ratification of a treaty on civil and political rights. Li explained that China takes the treaties seriously, and for that reason ratification requires careful preparation and study.

Tuomioja also brought up the violations of the human rights of members of the Falun Gong [..] movement, which he said was a cause for concern in Finland and the rest of Europe.

According to a Foreign Ministry press release, Li admitted that the human rights situation in China is not perfect, but he claimed that Amnesty International and other organisations are not giving the right impression of the situation.

A group of Finnish Parliamentarians sent an appeal to the Chinese President on Thursday calling on the country's Government to end its suppression of the Falun Gong movement, as well as other violations of human rights.

http://www.helsinki-hs.net/news.asp?id=20021129IE4

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