Xi’s Europe Visit Awaits Massive Protest 

By Tsering Choephel

DHARAMSALA, 4 May: Tibetans living in France and neighbouring European countries are gearing up to stage what the Student for a Free Tibet (SFT) stated will be “the biggest unwelcoming protest of Xi’s Europe trip” as China’s president is scheduled to arrive in France tomorrow.

Xi’s official visit to Europe, his first in five years, is set to begin from Paris and is expected to see large demonstrations by Tibetans, Uyghurs, and other groups protesting against China’s expansive repression and persecution. Xi is scheduled to tour France, Hungary, and Serbia, according to media reports.

Just days ahead of Xi’s upcoming visit, Penpa Tsering, the leader of the Tibetan government in exile, also known as the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), had a timely meeting with French President Macron at an award ceremony for former Senator André Gattolin, who is a longstanding friend of Tibet. Penpa presented Macron with a photograph of his meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2016, autographed by the Tibetan spiritual leader, and urged him not to forget Tibet, according to the CTA’s report.

The International Federation for Human Rights and its member organisations, including the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and the French Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH), have called on the French President to highlight the issue of human rights, particularly in Tibet, at the heart of his discussions with his Chinese interlocutor.

Vincent Metten of ICT acknowledged the significance of international crises such as those in Ukraine and the Middle East as agenda items during the meeting but emphasised that it “must not be done at the expense of exchanges on human rights, which are in a deplorable state throughout the country as well as in Hong Kong, Xinjiang (Uyghur region) and Tibet, where a latent conflict has been going on for over 60 years and poses a threat to regional and international security.”

Patrick Baudouin, president of the French NGO Ligue des droits de l’Homme, expressed the importance of pivoting the human rights issue at the heart of French foreign policy vis-à-vis China. “President Macron must forcefully denounce, both privately and publicly, the repression in China and in France, the so-called transnational repression, which affects Chinese human rights activists and defenders, Hongkongers, Uyghurs and Tibetans,” he said. 

Xi’s tour to Europe comes as the European Union’s perspective on Beijing hardens after multiple spying scandals and China’s ongoing support for Russia in its occupation of Ukraine. With the US taking a stricter and more challenging stance on China, Xi hopes to neutralise the EU bloc’s economic security agenda, including its tariff threats, during his visit, according to experts and observers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *