Just a few days before a European Union summit with China, a human rights incident has flared up. Chinese police have prevented a European Parliament member – Helga Trupel – from visiting the wife of imprisoned dissident Hu Jia. He recently won the European Union’s highest human rights prize, which did not go down well with the People’s Republic of China. Metres away from a cluster of uniformed men who were barring her way, Trupel told reporters: “The European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize for Human Rights to Hu Jia and two years ago I had the possibility to meet Zeng Jinyan here in Beijing. Therefore, I would like to visit her today. I brought a gift for the little baby and I will try to talk to her.”
Hu’s wife Zeng Jinyan and their one-year-old daughter are living under de facto house arrest. Foreigners are not usually allowed into the apartment compound unless the people they are visiting come down to meet them. Zeng spoke to Trupel by phone but was not allowed out. The guards said they did not know about her. Hu is serving a three-and-a-half year prison sentence on charges of “inciting subversion of state power and the socialist system”, for his political articles published on the Internet, and interviews he gave to the foreign media. His participation in a teleconference with the European Parliament also angered the Chinese government.