MEP Molly Scott-Cato criticised the "poorly thought-through deal" as human rights were raised during discussions on EU-Chinese tourism
Earlier this month two members of the European Parliament raised repression in Tibet during a debate on the designation of 2018 as EU-China Tourism Year.
Both Molly Scott-Cato and Csaba Sogor took the opportunity to question whether tourism should be promoted with China in light of the country's human rights record. They also raised wider concerns about the prominence of trade in relations between Beijing and Brussels.
I firmly believe that the conclusion of a tourism agreement with China, without a single human rights reference is not ethical, nor is it in line with our universal and foreign policy values.
Scott-Cato, Vice-President of TIG and British MEP, turned her attention closer to home by highlighting Liverpool Football Club's recent deal with Tibet Water. As she explained:
In July this year, Liverpool FC signed a controversial sponsorship deal with Tibet Water Resources Limited that exploits the natural resources of Tibet to the detriment of the local population and the environment. Such commercial agreements not only lend legitimacy to China’s occupation of Tibet, indeed, they are only possible because of it.
The deal, signed on 24 July, makes Tibet Water LFC's official regional water partner in China and offers the company a range of promotional and marketing rights. Free Tibet has protested this partnership, contacting the club's owner and directors and working with Tibet and Liverpool supporters to raise awareness and pressure.
This sponsorship deal puts the club and the city in the centre of China's on-going occupation of Tibet. I know this does not reflect either the fans or the city and urge the club to reconsider this poorly thought-through deal.
She ended her statement by saying that the timing of EU-China Tourism Year demonstrated that "economic interests are, once again, being prioritised over human rights" and called on Beijing to restart talks with the Dalai Lama over the future of Tibet.
Around 70,000 people in Liverpool, the UK and around the world have taken action in response to the club's deal with Tibet Water, including 1,500 Free Tibet supporters, who sent messages to Liverpool FC's US-based owner, John W. Henry, urging him to terminate the agreement.
Stand with Tibetans and tell Liverpool FC's owner that the military occupation and exploitation of Tibet’s resources must not be legitimised. The club's directors must drop the deal.