Europe, China and Expectations for Human Rights

  • Duncan Freeman
  • Gustaaf Geeraerts


The issue of human rights has been one of the most sensitive elements in the EU-China relationship. It has been difficult to deal with in the official relationship between the EU and the Chinese government and has also been controversial in public opinion and in the media. The question of human rights often appears to be the aspect of their relationship where the differences between Europe and China are the greatest and the most destabilizing. In recent times we have seen this with regard to specific issues. On the Tibet issue, China was critical of EU President Sarkozy’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2008. A generalized criticism in Europe of China’s human rights policies affected events surrounding the Beijing Olympics; notably during the Olympic torch procession and when a boycott of the event by European leaders was widely advocated.


Chinese Government Positive View Negative View World Value Survey Chinese Respondent 
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  1. 1.
    See, for instance, Robert Wetherly, The Discourse on Human Rights in China: Historical and Ideological Perspectives, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 1999;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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© Duncan Freeman and Gustaaf Geeraerts 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Duncan Freeman
  • Gustaaf Geeraerts

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