Chapter 4: Human rights: matters of emphasis
Since the first EU China Communication in 1995, commitment to safeguard human rights has been an objective at the heart of the EU’s China policy, together with democracy and rule of law. A principled European narrative has gradually taken shape, the result of common efforts of all the actors involved in a fragmented governance structure. Yet, the gap between generous rhetoric and Europe’s failure to implement a common approach in practice has damaged Europe’s power of example, a key factor in shaping its effectiveness. Most importantly, the fundamental normative divergence overshadowing EU-China relations has hindered dialogue at the expense of trust and mutual understanding. Human rights remain a constant irritation. Europe’s crises have brought further pressure on its efforts to socialize its partner in this sensitive and difficult policy area. As a result, European normative power effectiveness in human rights in China has remained limited.
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