Chinese President Raises Issue of Antisemitism

“Correct antisemitism and the treatment of immigrants and refugees before you preach to China on human rights issues”

China-Israel relations.
Haim Zach/GPO

Chinese President Xi Jinping stunned European leaders when he raised the issue of anti-Semitism in Europe as a counter-argument to European allegations against China on the subject of Hong Kong.

This happened at a recent virtual summit between Xi Jinping and European leaders, while discussing human rights and equality. German chancellor Angela Merkel, who is the current President of the European Union, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen took part in the discussion.

This is the first time the issue has been raised by the Chinese, and it was all the more surprising since it came at the highest levels of leadership. The Chinese President had obviously prepared to address this issue, because he presented in his arguments data and examples from the recently published human rights FRA report for 2019. According to the FRA report, published earlier this year, 41% of Jews in Europe, aged 16 to 34, have considered leaving Europe due to the rise of anti-Semitism over the past five years. Another conclusion of the report is that European Jews are not satisfied with the response of their governments to anti-Semitism.

In addition to anti-Semitism, the President of China also spoke of Europe’s attitude towards immigrants, refugees, Islamophobia, ethnicity and racism against blacks on the continent. He asked his European counterparts to address these phenomena before they preach to China on human rights issues.

Merkel and von der Leyen responded to the surprising remarks of the Chinese president. Von der Leyen reacted bluntly. They told the President of China that while it is true that there is an anti-Semitic problem in Europe, they do not deny it but are instead fighting it legally and practically. They added that they are doing everything in their power to protect EU citizens affected by this phenomenon, and that they are also in constant dialogue with Israel regarding the fight against anti-Semitism.

Von Der Leyen later mentioned in a public speech that Europe will continue to point out human rights violations, whenever and wherever they occur, including in Hong Kong or against the Uyghurs (a Muslim minority in China claiming to be oppressed).

Editor’s note: Israel Today recently extended its news service into Chinese. Many Chinese speakers are interested in Israel for various reasons including religion and technology.