Statement by EU Delegation on the sentence of Dr. Xu Zhiyong (26/01/2014)

The Delegation of the European Union to China expresses regret at the sentence of 4 years imprisonment handed down to human rights defender Xu Zhiyong. The sentence has heightened the Delegation's deep concern about the situation being faced by a number of Chinese Human Rights Defenders who have been prosecuted in relation to peaceful action against corruption and public advocacy of rule of law, transparency and social justice. This concern was expressed by High Representative Catherine Ashton in August.

The EU welcomes that the fight against corruption and the strengthening of rule of law have been declared top political priorities by the Chinese government and encourages the Chinese government to implement the necessary measures to meet these priorities. However, Xu Zhiyong 's conviction -and ongoing prosecution of other individuals advocating transparency and respect for the Rule of Law, including Zhao Changqing, Hou Xin, Yuan Dong, Zhang Baocheng, Ding Jiaxi, Li Wei, Liu Ping, Wei Zhongping, Li Sihua and Liu Yuandong- is sending the wrong signal concerning the Chinese Government's commitment to those aims.

The EU calls on the Chinese authorities to release immediately Dr. Xu Zhiyong and other individuals, who have been prosecuted for the peaceful expression of their views and guarantee the protection and freedom to which they are entitled to under the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China signed more than 15 years ago.

The EU attaches great importance to the respect for Human Rights, the situation of Human Rights Defenders and the due process of law all over the world, including in China, and will continue to follow these cases closely.