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Leah Farrell

Eamon Ryan raises human rights concerns with Chinese counterpart, but says cooperation is essential

Ryan was speaking to TheJournal in Beijing today.

IRELAND’S ENVIRONMENT MINISTER Eamon Ryan said he raised human rights issues with his Chinese counterpart during a meeting that focused mostly on climate and energy.

Speaking to TheJournal Beijing today, Ryan described his meeting with Chinese Minister for Ecology and Environment Huang Runqui as “businesslike”. He said the meeting lasted almost two hours and covered a lot of ground.

Ryan said he was involved in international negotiations around climate and emissions targets, and so “to have a connection with the Chinese representative is very important”.

“And so we were talking about COP 28, what’s going to happen in United Arab Emirates in November. How we can cooperate on things like loss and damage… and climate finance.”

Ryan also said they discussed technical matters like strategies to manage short-lived gases in the atmosphere, like methane. Energy matters were also raised, in the context of the war in Ukraine, and the pair also talked about “how we can cooperate on clean energy”.

As well as this, Ryan said he briefly raised issues to do with China’s human rights record. China has come under fire for a number of human rights violations, particularly for its treatment in recent years of Uyghurs Muslims in the Xinjiang province.

“I also raised… some of the issues like human rights issues,” he said.

But you do that not in a megaphone diplomacy way. But you know, you do it in a way where you raise those concerns and share our own perspective.

Working with China

Ryan is visiting China for the annual St Patrick’s Day celebrations and has been meeting with Chinese Government officials and diplomats in recent days.

Speaking generally about the need for countries’ to cooperate in the face of global climate challenges, Ryan said that the focus should not be too much on “megaphone diplomacy”.

“You can still very much stand up for human rights and international law and all the kind of values you espouse, but sometimes you can do it better when you do it in a respectful way,” he said.”

Or when you do it in a way which is making the point.. where it’s done in a diplomatic way.

Ryan said Ireland is a neutral country, and that in the face of many divisions, it was important to focus on “where you can cooperate” and find a common interest “and try to build a relationship there”.

I suppose that goes back to the Good Friday Agreement. That was what John Hume said… focus on big issues that you can work on together. So I think, in my view, politically for Ireland’s, it’s right for us to do that.

 With reporting from Tadhg McNally in Beijing  

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