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Chairman of the EU China Friendship Group in European Parliament: he had ever personally refuted Rebiya

Release Date:2017-03-02 Source: Click:1119Second

Nirj Deva, Chairman of EU-China Friendship Group in European Parliament always shows goodwill towards Chinese People. In recent interview, he talked about his story with China. The following is his narration:

Since 2005, as the chairman of the EU-China Friendship Group, I have established a profound friendship with China. Coordinated by my assistant Gai Lin, I visited China nearly ten times, including the attendance of opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics on behalf of the European Parliament and opening ceremony of 2010 Shanghai World Expo, during which I met many senior governmental officials. The Group also set up relation with National People's Friendship Association, National People's Congress, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce and other ministries.

Mr. Gai Lin became my assistant in European Parliament in 2005, as external staff. While with amending the Conditions of Employment in 2009, he was the first  Chinese to be civil servant of the European Communities and he is still the only one to date in European Parliament, although there are many Chinese faces. I believe that we cannot get a good understanding of China without the help of Chinese. Recruiting a Chinese staff will thus help European Parliament to better understand China and establish closer relation with China. I still remember that he proposed to me the idea of the establishment of a friendship group, shortly after his start of work. Because people in the European Parliament had limited knowledge of China, and some members even hold the partial view on China. In terms of rapid development of China, his suggestion made me aware of the importance of one organization promoting the understanding of China. So, with my approval and support, Gai Lin drafted the group charters and discussed the main issues with quite a few members friendly to China. Finally, 13 members and their assistants attended on December 5th, 2006 inaugural meeting of EU-China Friendship Group. From then on, the Group has been a positive and remarkable force in enhancing the understanding of China and fostering the EU-China cooperation in European Parliament.

In May 2007, at the invitation of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), the delegation of 6 MEPs and 1 Secretary-General from the Group had for the first time an official visit to China. We got to know China closely. The members were surprised by the rapid growth of China and admitted the huge gap between the reality and image delivered by TV. The successful visit further deepened the understanding of Chinese economic development and strengthened the cooperation between the European Parliament and CPAFFC. The year of 2008 was a memorable year for me. When the earthquake struck Wenchuan in China, I was on a trip to the United States. When Gai Lin told me this news, I immediately sent a message of condolence to the mission of PRC to EU. A few days later, I talked to special envoy of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in Strasbourg on aid to China. When hearing  there was an urgent need of tent, I immediately informed commissioner in development and humanitarian assistance in European Commission of this need and  urged the procurement and delivery as soon as possible. I and Gai Lin at the same time called for EU, Member States and relevant agencies to collect more tents. On May 22nd  following my proposal, the European Parliament passed a resolution which thought highly of Chinese government flexible and effective rescue operations and required the EU to provide more "emergency assistance and technical support, to support the China earthquake reconstruction work”.

In July of 2008, the European Parliament debated whether parliament should boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games because of human rights issues. I think the China economic development promoted the progress of human rights. Assisted by Gai Lin, I argued that in the debate, the issue of human rights China should be decided by the 1.3 billion Chinese people rather than any other country, any organization or other people. Due to efforts of members, attempt of a few members did not succeed. On behalf of the European Parliament, I attended the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympic Games as well as the luncheon meeting hosted by Chinese President Hu Jintao, and I met Wu Bangguo Chairman of China NPC’s Standing Committee. On the 1st of September, 2009, Rebiya preached "Xinjiang independence" propaganda in the European Parliament, accusing the Chinese government of long oppressing Uygur people, deprivating their religion freedom, wiping out their language and culture. I confronted Rebiya as to how she, as Uygur could become a member of the CPPCC,  how she could become one of the wealthiest businesswoman, how she could have 11 children, and how she can now slander China in fluent Uyghur, if her arguments are reality. My question put Rebiya to silence and won the support from other members present. 
With the expansion of the Group,  Gai Lin proposed the creation of EU-China Friendship Association as an independent non-governmental organization to supplement the Group in promoting China EU relations. Frankly speaking, his idea indeed wasn’t recognized by others, since we are more willing to focus on the political issues. But he always insisted that the purpose of friendly EU-China cooperation is to provide benefits for people. If there is a non - governmental organization independent of the European Parliament, it is supposed to take more initiative to promote exchanges in a broader context and overcome the weakness of political-oriented approach. We finally adopted the proposal and the EU-China Friendship Association thus came into being, initiated by the key members of the Group, in the end of 2010 in Brussels.

In the international community, as an advocate of green energy, EU hopes to take advantage of its green design and pass experience in environmental protection towards other countries while Chinese entrepreneurs are also seeking to upgrade its industry and realize the goal of Green GDP. In terms of this potential for bilateral cooperation, EU-China Friendship Association, launched "World Green Design Forum” with other organizations. The forum aims at building the international dialogue platform for global environmental protection and green industry development, supported by the European Parliament and Mission of China to the EU. More than 300 officials, environmental experts, designers and entrepreneurs from the world participated in the forum, discussing how  green design can promote global sustainable development. I think this is win-win cooperation which helped China's sustainable development and raised international profile of EU's green design industry. 
In 2013, in context of Chinese economic boom and the implementation of  "go out" strategy (which encourages Chinese enterprises go abroad), the Association set out to motivate the resources in the EU and   access the provinces and cities in a more efficient way, benefiting both sides as well as fueling its sustainable development. Finally, we build a partnership with Liaoning province, striving to exert the influence of European Parliament on its cooperation with multi-level governing bodies, enterprises and academic institutions in fields of political exchange, trade, culture, tourism, education, etc.

Today, when I heard of an interview on what I have done for EU-China relations over the years, I realized that we have yielded many results. The Group and the Association is frequently visible on the Internet, in newspapers and in television. The MEPs friendly to China, like me, are increasingly well received. But the public knows little about the story behind the remarkable progress, made indeed by a Chinese man in European Parliament. This is the fascinating part of the story and need to be spread to China. 

Published on Huanqiu.com, reported by Zhang Jie in Belgium