Le Monde | • Updated | By
In official trip to China, the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, was to meet Friday morning January 30, in a French gallery in Beijing, several personalities of Chinese civil society. It has not happened: all withdrew under pressure from the Chinese authorities. Ahead of the visit of Mr Valls, arrived Thursday in Beijing, six to eight figures – academics, bloggers, artists or journalists who are far from being considered dissidents – were approached to speak so informal and discreet with the Minister, anxious to meet with the “real China” . There are some days, only three were still available, a professor at Tsinghua University.
On Thursday evening, the day before the meeting, Le Monde has learned that one, the film actor and director Jiang Wen, 52, one of the biggest stars of his generation, known for its spirit of independence, remained in contention. Las Mr Jiang, whose last film was a moderate success at the box office, said he was no longer able to honor its promise
Mr.. Valls, accompanied by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and part of the delegation, has maintained its passage early this morning at Yishu 8 Gallery, housed in a symbolic location since it is an ancient university Franco China founded in 1920, where he shared with two painters. This step had not been the official program of a tour that fits primarily in the logic of economic pragmatism. So at the Embassy of France, before lunch, Mr. Valls was finally able to meet with members of civil society. – Meeting on which the entourage of the Prime Minister declined to give more details
Still, the practice of meeting with civil society is acrobatic for any leader of a Western democracy in China. None, for example, has ever attempted to meet with “dissidents” identified as such – like Liu Xia (Liu Xiaobo’s wife) or the artist Ai Weiwei – for fear of offending the host . Chinese
Angela Merkel, specialist thing has regularly seen its guests neutralized at home – as was the case in 2012 for the lawyer Mo Shaoping (who defended Liu), again . unable to meet the German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel in April 2014
France plays low profile: Hollande and Jean-Marc Ayrault had both met with figures for informal discussions in the premises of the Embassy of France during their official visits in April and December 2013 – for example, Hu Shuli, the editor of the magazine Caixin . These meetings are usually ignored. M me Hu directs an authorized media, so under the supervision of the Party and government -. But shows that there was more daring in the Chinese press
Manuel Valls had hoped that such a meeting is outside the embassy. Either symbolically in Chinese territory. But his visit came as the political atmosphere is particularly harmful for critical voice rarely Chinese civil society – even the use of the term “civil society” is now controlled in the press and universities – will suffered much pressure
2014, black year
A kind of emergency that does not say his name reign. anti-corruption campaign particularly opaque and brutal inside the Party, is coupled to the outside of a witch hunt that decimated circles of protest, multiplying persecution and arrests of lawyers, journalists and even academics.
2014 has been a bad year, with the sentence of four years in prison lawyer Xu Zhiyong and university Uighur Tohti in perpetuity. A third emblematic figure of the fight for civil rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who was arrested in May and awaiting trial, is exposed to a heavy prison sentence given the very serious charges against him.
The NGO China Human Rights Defenders, based outside China, considered in a recent report that “political crimes carried out under Xi Jinping a comeback.” The NGO recognized “22 cases of human rights defenders indicted for inciting subversion of state power or subversion of state power since May 2014″ .
The Chinese president, Manuel Valls will meet Friday afternoon, said that China – in fact the Party – through “a Danger Zone ‘ and noted in all areas tolerances. However, in this context, and despite the fear, people start to speak: in Beijing, members of the intelligentsia, even the most moderate, wear a look of growing criticism of the authoritarian tendencies of the new Red Emperor.