E.U. Honors Chinese Dissident Hu Jia

Ariana Eunjung Cha – The Washington Post

Copyright The Washington Post
SHANGHAI, Oct. 23 — The European Parliament on Thursday awarded its top human rights prize to jailed Chinese dissident Hu Jia despite warnings from China that its relations with the 27-nation bloc would be seriously damaged if it did so.
In selecting Hu to receive the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the European lawmakers said they are “sending out a signal of clear support to all those who support human rights in China.” Hu has advocated for the rights of Chinese citizens with HIV-AIDS and chronicled the arrest, detention and abuse of other activists.
The award honors Andrei Sakharov, a Soviet physicist and Nobel Peace Prize winner who fought against nuclear proliferation and was a leader in the country’s pro-democracy opposition party.
“Hu Jia is one of the real defenders of human rights in the People’s Republic of China,” European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering said in announcing the award.
When Hu was revealed earlier this month to be among the three finalists for the Sakharov Prize, China’s ambassador to the EU, Song Zhe, sent a letter to Poettering asking him to use his influence to make sure Hu does not win. She said honoring Hu “would inevitably hurt the Chinese people and once again bring serious damage to China-EU relations,” according to the Associated Press.
“Not recognizing China’s progress in human rights and insisting on confrontation will only deepen the misunderstanding between the two sides,” Song wrote. ..
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