Activists miss attention to human rights on Lithuanian president’s agenda in China

A public picket was on Friday held outside the Presidential Palace when public figures said the Lithuanian-Chinese relations are mainly focused on a business agenda, avoiding the issue of human rights violations.

“We see the expanding Lithuanian-Chinese relations, and they are moving forward in a single trade direction. We also see economic things mentioned, that it’s only trade, only investment,” Robertas Mažeika, a representative of the Tibet support group, told journalists. “We believe that China should also be reminded of human rights while expanding business ties, it’s our duty.”

“The presidential office has stressed that these are economic meetings. But then I would like to ask when we are going to have a human rights agenda? There’s none at all,” the public figure said.

Around a dozen people took part in the picket outside the Presidential Palace, holding Tibetan and Lithuanian flags and banners. They also lit candles to honor the memory of self-immolated Tibetans

Grybauskaitė is on Friday leaving for Shanghai as China is inviting Europe to established closer ties as a counterbalance to the United States’ protectionist policy.

The Lithuanian leader is scheduled to meet with her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and attend China’s first imports exhibition. With this exhibition, China is trying to soften criticism that it blocks foreign companies from its internal market.

China froze ties with Lithuania for several years after Grybauskaitė met with Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in Vilnius in 2013. The Dalai Lama also visited Vilnius in June but the president and government representatives did not meet with him this time.

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