Cover Osteuropa 4-6/2021

In Osteuropa 4-6/2021

China and Human Rights
Notes on a Misguided Debate

Rudolf Fürst

Deutsche Fassung


In the Czech Republic, China policy has been hotly debated for many years. The background to the discussion was initially the violent stifling of the human rights movement in Beijing in 1989 and the peaceful revolution in Czechoslovakia that same year. It is no coincidence that the Czech media dedicates its attention above all to Tibet and Taiwan. The Czech Republic’s first president, Václav Havel, who was a personal friend of the Dalai Lama, still represented a credible concept of solidarity with the powerless. Over the past two decades, however, the debate has deteriorated. Now, vociferous criticism of China serves almost only to boost the domestic standing of politicians. Symbolic gestures are supposed to demonstrate fearlessness in the face of a great power. China experts can hardly get a word in. The Czech Republic lacks a foreign policy strategy to improve the actual human rights situation in China.

(Osteuropa 4-6/2021, pp. 269–272)