Thu, Dec 13, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Chen slams Sarkozy in meeting with NGO head

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday criticized French President Nicolas Sarkozy for bowing to Chinese pressure and opposing the nation's referendum on joining the UN under the name "Taiwan."

Chen said Sarkozy had betrayed his country's core value of democracy for commercial interest.

Sarkozy's opposition violates the founding values of the French republic, Chen said.

Chen made the remarks while receiving Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Menard at the Presidential Office yesterday afternoon.

Praising Taiwan as a true democracy, Menard said some Western leaders lacked courage in dealing with Beijing.

Menard was denied a visa by Chinese authorities to stage a demonstration for human rights in Beijing to celebrate World Human Rights Day, which was on Monday.

Menard said his organization was a true friend of Taiwan and said it was unfair that Taiwanese journalists are banned from attending meetings of UN agencies to report on them.

Menard pledged to work to help Taiwanese journalists hoping to cover the Olympic Games in Beijing next year.

Earlier yesterday, Menard, in response to a reporter's question at a conference held by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD) called on the international community to pressure the International Olympic Committee to demand China honor human rights pledges it made to the committee to win the right to hold the 2008 Olympics.

Beijing has not made the improvements it promised in its 2001 Olympic bid, Menard said.

The conference was held to mark the release of the TFD's 2007 China Human Rights Report: Observations on Social, Economic, and Education & Cultural Rights.

"Chinese high-level officials had promised to release [journalist] Ching Cheong [程翔] when meeting with us before," he said, adding that Ching is still jailed.

Ching, a Hong Kong reporter for Singapore's Straits Times, was detained in April 2005 during a research trip to China.

Ching obtained an internal government document about late premier Zhao Ziyang (趙紫陽) -- who was removed from his position and placed under house arrest until his death -- and Zhao's belief that the government was wrong to end the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests with violence.

Ching was sentenced last August to five years in prison on charges of spying.

Menard said about 100 cyber-dissidents and bloggers are in prison in China, adding that he knew of 50 reporters from Western countries who had experienced threats or other forms of pressure from Chinese authorities.

He lambasted the Olympic committee for "brushing human rights issues aside."

"What the IOC cares about are the interests of the sponsors of the Olympic Games and the quality of hotels there," Menard said.

In the TFD report, foundation deputy executive director Tung Li-wen (董立文) wrote that no significant progress had been made in social rights in China this year.

"As a result of the establishment of a number of new laws and discussions in the media, workers' rights have attracted more attention in Chinese society, but it's not clear whether this will lead to improvements," Tung said.

Lee Yu-jung (李有容), an associate professor of public affairs and management at Kalnan University, who contributed to the section of the report on economic rights in China, said that "the situation has worsened," citing growing economic disparity and unrest in the countryside.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top