Slovakia’s president meets China’s top diplomat, raises China’s poor human rights record

Slovakia’s President Zuzana Caputova and Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Image: Xinhua

DHARAMSALA, 11 July: Slovakia’s new president has criticized China’s human rights record at a meeting with China’s top diplomat.

President Zuzana Caputova used a meeting with China’s top diplomat on Wednesday to criticize Beijing’s human rights record, in a rare departure for an east European politician in a region hungry for Chinese investment, reports the Reuters.

The former activist lawyer who assumed the office of the presidency last month has reportedly raised her concerns with Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is on a week-long trip to the region that also includes Poland and Hungary over 7 to 13 July.

“In line with the EU’s joint policy, I expressed concern and worries about the deteriorating situation in terms of human rights protection in China, about the detainment of lawyers and human rights activists, and about the position of ethnic and religious minorities,” the report quoted Caputova as saying in a statement.

The development came at a time when China is actively seeking to boost business ties with Europe through President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative, which draws inspiration from the ancient Silk Road that linked East and West and when most politicians in post-communist eastern Europe have steered clear of criticizing China’s record on freedom of speech, its treatment of religious and ethnic minorities and other issues, the report added.

Meanwhile, Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency entirely skipped the Slovakian President’s concern over China’s human rights records and instead reported that she was head over heels over China’s development and her commitment to One-China policy.

“During the meeting, the Slovak president said that her country admires the huge development achieved by China, respects China’s sovereignty and firmly adheres to the One-China policy,” Xinhua reported.

Zuzana Caputova, the first women to hold the presidency gained national prominence as a lawyer when she led a case against an illegal landfill lasting 14 years. She won Slovakia’s presidential election by defeating high-profile diplomat Maros Sefcovic as she won the 58% of the vote.

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