EU concerned by China's Charter '08 arrests

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union expressed serious concern on Tuesday about the arrest of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and other rights activists.

Liu, a former literature professor who was jailed for his involvement in the 1989 pro-democracy protests, was detained by police last week over the “Charter ‘08” manifesto.

Liu helped organise hundreds of signatories to the declaration demanding dramatic democratic reforms to the one-Party state.

A statement from the French EU presidency expressed “deep concern” at the arrest of Liu and other activists. It called on the authorities to reveal the reason for Liu’s arrest and conditions of his detention.

“It also calls for Mr Liu’s fundamental rights and those of the other people arrested in the last few days to be respected and for the principle of freedom of expression to be observed in China in all circumstances,” the statement said.

Relations between the European Union and China have been strained in recent weeks over human rights.

China called off an EU-China summit scheduled for early this month over a plan by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, described as a secessionist by Beijing.

Sarkozy met the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader at a ceremony with Nobel Peace Prize winners in Poland after avoiding a meeting during the Beijing Olympics in August when the Dalai Lama visited France.

editing by Elizabeth Piper