Hollande 'sacrificing' rights on China visit

A group supporting jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo on Thursday accused French President Francois Hollande of putting economic interests before human rights during his visit to China.

"Human rights are being sacrificed for economic interests. European heads of state are going to China for money, not to promote the human rights of the Chinese people," said Emmanouil Athanasiou, the coordinator for the International Committee for Liu Xiaobo.

Liu, a dissident writer, was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for "subversion" after circulating a charter calling for democratic reforms, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 to Beijing's fury.

Hollande on Thursday became the first Western leader to be received in Beijing by China's new president, Xi Jinping, arriving in the country with a planeload of business executives.

Hollande told a press conference Thursday that he had raised human rights issues in China in a "frank and respectful manner" and cited a list of Chinese dissidents established by the European Union.

He did not, however, mention Liu personally.

"How can you call for his release if you don't even dare say his name in public!" said Athanasiou. "China needs Europe as much as Europe needs China. Europe must bring to China the universal values it is lacking."