Chinese scholars discuss human rights. No, really. Wednesday, September 20, was the day of the “Sino-European Seminar on Human Rights 2023,” held at the Sheraton Parco de’ Medici Hotel in Rome. As Decode39 reported, 50 scholars from China have travelled to the Eternal City to discuss “Modernisation and Diversity in Human Rights Culture.”
- The event was organised by the Law Faculty of the Sapienza University of Rome, the China Society for Human Rights Studies and the Roma 9 Association – a self-styled “Sino-Italian Centre for Economic and Cultural Exchange” linked to Cina in Italia, the Italian edition of a propaganda newspaper edited by national press agency China News Service).
The core concept. The seminar was advertised as a way to understand China and its take on social issues – meaning it’s a way for Beijing to broadcast its point of view and defend its position on human rights on the international stage. As with the concept of democracy, the Chinese Communist Party is trying to push a narrative on human rights inspired by the idea of non-interference in internal affairs.
- That sounds something like “we all defend human rights, but each according to their own needs and culture,” de facto overturning the universalism of human rights.
Roll call. The roughly fifty Chinese specialists and professors in the field of human rights were led by Padma Choling, director of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, former Vice Chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and ethnic Tibetan (which makes him a perfect human rights champion for Beijing), sanctioned by the United States in 2020 for human rights violations in Hong Kong. Here’s who else was in attendance.
- Jia Guide, Chinese Ambassador to Italy (with a track record of using the Roma 9 Association to advance initiatives that couldn’t be hosted directly by the Embassy);
- Lord Neil Davidson, former Labour MP and former guest of the Chinese government in Tibet;
- Fabio Marcelli, former director of the Institute of International Legal Studies at Italy’s National Research Council (which is the main Italian public research body under the supervision of the Ministry of University and Research).
- Mr Marcelli had organised another conference in April with a large Chinese delegation titled “A new international order for a shared future of humanity.”
The Italian link. One of the event’s main organisers was the dean of Sapienza’s Faculty of Law: Oliviero Diliberto, former Minister of Justice, member of the Italian Communist Party, one of the editors of the People Republic of China’s Civil Code and also dean of the Italian-Chinese Institute of Wuhan, opened in 2019 with Zhongnan University of Economics and Law after the signing of the Belt and Road Initiative Memorandum of Understanding (which the Meloni government is determined not to renew).
What’s next. Thursday through Saturday, La Sapienza will host the 19th Conference of the Italian Association of Chinese Studies at the Italian Institute of Oriental Studies Department, coordinated by Professor Federico Masini, director of the University’s Confucius Institute – the first to be opened in Italy back in 2006.