Human rights not priority for Gauck visit

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-22 0:18:01

German President Joachim Gauck has kicked off his five-day tour of China, which has drawn quite a lot of attention from Western human rights groups. Gauck was a democratic activist in East Germany before German reunification. Human rights is always a frequent topic on his agenda as president. Unlike German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who needs to maintain a good economic relationship with China, Gauck is thought to have fewer concerns and could inflict more pressure on the Chinese government over human rights issues.

The theory is too simple and naive. Gauck's mission in this trip should be enhancing Sino-German relations, and it is unlikely he would throw a wet blanket on the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries. Gauck might have to say something about human rights, because it has become a required routine for Western politicians on their China visits. But it will only be a trivial matter on his agenda.

Although having different values with the Chinese, Gauck clearly knows that he has to show respect to China despite the differences. He knows that unlike in the era of East Germany, China has its own diversity. The development of human rights in China is different from what the Western world portrays.

Westerners are identified with universal values, but the Chinese are in favor of common values. The two concepts differ. The former calls for expansion and promotion in other societies, while the latter advocates the co-existence of different values on an equal footing. China insists that although human rights is a common value for mankind, there are also different priorities in different countries. We hope Gauck can understand China's reasoning.

The West should evaluate China's human rights based on the facts. The progress China has made in its 1.3 billion citizens' rights of life and development deserve applause.

That a very few dissenters are investigated is always used by the West as evidence for its accusations. As a prerequisite to human rights dialogue, Western countries should respect China's fundamental political system.

Different from developed Western nations, China has been sticking to the Communist Party's leadership. This is a historic decision proved by long-term practice and formulated by the Constitution. Facing plenty of problems, China is clear that following the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the basis for progress.

China-West competition over human rights is a result of divergences in political institutions and development paths. Rule of law is now a fundamental strategy of China. The very few dissenters are investigated because they have breached the criminal laws. This is why in many Chinese eyes, the West is not helping us in human rights, but is just taking advantage of the issue to bargain with China.

We understand that Gauck's views on politics and human rights are shaped by his personal experiences. However, it is also a significant part of self-esteem for politicians to respect China's political choices. We hope Gauck can agree with us on this point. We also expect the Western elites to conscientiously interpret and understand our attitudes.

Posted in: Editorial

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