On the 20th of November we celebrate the World Children’s Day to promote international solidarity, awareness among children worldwide, and the need to improve children's welfare. In 1989, the international community made a historic commitment to all children by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the first international instrument to explicitly recognize the need to protect children as holders of innate rights. This convention is the most ratified convention in history.
On the European and World Day against the Death Penalty, the European Union and the Council of Europe reaffirm their firm opposition to capital punishment at all times and in all circumstances. The death penalty is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment contrary to the right to life. Its abolition is essential to ensure respect for human dignity.
At a time when independent and free media reporting is more essential than ever, press freedom continues to be under threat. Journalists continue to experience harsh working conditions with increasing financial and political pressure, surveillance, arbitrary prison sentences or violence for doing their work. According to the UNESCO Observatory, 76 journalists were killed since 2020, while many more were arrested, harassed or threatened worldwide. Of particular concern is gender-based violence targeting women journalists.
The EU has repeatedly expressed its concerns to the Chinese authorities at the undue working restrictions imposed on foreign journalists and reported related harassment. Professionalism and objectivity of foreign correspondents is increasingly put into question.
On 4 March, the National People's Congress in China announced that it would deliberate on amending the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. A decision can be expected by 11 March.
On 25 October 1971, Belgium established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, with as first Belgian Ambassador Jacques Groothaert. 2021 is therefore a special year in which we will review the course and experiences we have shared over the past 50 years and also expectantly look forward to new opportunities for future cooperation between our countries.