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China-Europe seminar discusses human rights approaches
May 12,2022   By:CGTN
May 12, 2022 -- How do human rights differ in China and Europe? And what are the similarities? 
This year's China-Europe Seminar on Human Rights is being held jointly in the Austrian city of Vienna and the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The People's Republic has faced growing criticism in recent years over its alleged record on individual human rights - criticism Beijing says is entirely unfounded. But there are voices expressing concerns over recent developments in the West as well.
Ambassador Li Xiaosi (left) and Austria's former president Heinz Fischer (right)/CGTN/Johannes Pleschberger
This conference, taking place simultaneously in Vienna and Wuhan, is aimed at fostering dialogue and understanding between the two. It's the fourth event of its kind - with around 50 international guests, including Austria's former president - Heinz Fischer.
If the state has too many rights, "the freedom of the individuum may be reduced," the former head of state stressed. "And if the individuum has too many rights, and full freedom to do and not to do, then the danger is that the state gets weaker and cannot fulfill all its duties and its necessities."
Fischer says China has focused more on the rights of the state than the individual and he would like to see more of a balance.
But China's ambassador to Austria Li Xiaosi says welfare and economic rights are just as important as individual political rights. "Many Europeans pay a lot of attention to the rights of the individual. We in China just have too many people. If we would fight - for instance - COVID-19 the way Europe does, the pandemic in China would easily get out of control."
Vienna's next China-Europe Seminar will be held on June 27/CGTN/Johannes Pleschberger
Gerd Kaminski, one of the organisers, said it was important to introduce new structures to protect and preserve rights. For example a European-style "constitutional court is important to check and re-check of certain bad practices of certain authorities," he said.
But there are concerns on both sides. Other participants expressed misgivings over recent global developments online.
"I think it's dangerous that one person owns Twitter which is one of the largest communication and social media platforms," said Hannes Fellner, digital philology professor at the University of Vienna.
Most participants attended the seminar from their homes online/CGTN/Johannes Pleschberger
According to the organisers, the contributions of this conference will soon be published in a book. And at the end of June, another China-Europe seminar is to be held in Vienna.
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