HO CHI MINH CITY: France does not “sweep anything under a rug” when it comes to the issue of human rights in Vietnam, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe insisted on Sunday, after sidestepping questions over the Asian country’s dismal record on dissent, reports AFP.
His comments came on the final day of a state visit to Vietnam, that was largely aimed at drumming up business deals with one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies as both sides signed contracts worth a total of nearly $12 billion. But the French premier would not be drawn on the Communist government’s handling of dissent, which includes jailing people for posting their opinions about hot-button issues on Facebook.More than 50 activists, rights campaigners and bloggers have been put behind bars in 2018, one of the harshest crackdowns in recent years.
When questioned by reporters in Ho Chi Minh City, Philippe insisted, “we do not sweep anything under the rug, but we have discussions with the Vietnamese authorities that do not go through the press”.
“We do it in forums that are going well, the way we have always done,” Philippe said after inaugurating a French medical centre in the city.
A source familiar with the meetings between the two governments told AFP human rights was brought up during talks on Friday, the day of Philippe’s arrival.
“The human rights issue was addressed in the talks. The Vietnamese authorities’ attention has been drawn to a list of individual cases,” said the source.
The French premier’s visit coincides with the recent release of a draft cybersecurity decree, which outlines how the draconian bill would be implemented.