Xi visits Europe

21st March 2014

Will political leaders raise Tibet?

President Xi Jinping starts an 11-day visit to Europe this weekend. China's leader will visit the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium and will meet leaders of the European Union in Brussels. China's president will also meet President Obama, who will be joining Xi and other leaders at a nuclear conference in the Netherlands.

Calling China's bluff on Dalai Lama

The meeting between the two presidents will be the first since Mr Obama met the Dalai Lama - Tibet's spiritual leader who has been exiled from his country since 1959 - in February. China objected vociferously to the meeting at the time but it has not stood in the way of the meeting between the leaders. The UK Prime Minister David Cameron caved into China's anger over his meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2012 by stating he had "no plans" to meet him again. When Mr Cameron visited China last December he chose not to address human rights in Tibet, despite a Free Tibet opinion poll showing that most British people thought he should.

"Human rights" concerns in Tibet

Chinese state media anticipates that the tour will "strengthen win-win cooperation" between host nations and China. Whether the price of such cooperation will be silence on Tibet remains to be seen. As a major economic bloc, the European Union is less easy to bully than individual European countries and may take a more robust stance. Its Special Representative on Human Rights is one of the few human rights officials to be allowed to visit Tibet in recent years. His visit was carefully controlled and stage-managed by China but this did not prevent him from expressing concern over "worrying trends" in human rights in Tibet. It is expected that our friends in the Tibet movement in Europe will stage protests during the visit.

Take action

You can contact the foreign ministries of Xi's host countries through their websites. Please send polite messages urging these countries to challenge China over Tibet. Belgium Contact form for Ministry of Foreign Affairs France Contact form for Ministry of Foreign Affairs Germany Contact form for Federal Foreign Office NetherlandsContact form for Ministry of Foreign Affairs Read more of our latest news