DOI link for 1995–1997
The European Union first adopted a common line on human rights in China in response to the Tiananmen massacre in 1989. The level of international outrage was a new experience for the Chinese government, as before 1989, China had largely been exempt from international human rights scrutiny. Henry Kissinger recalled from informal exchanges with Chinese leaders in November 1989 that they were 'stunned by the reactions of the outside world' and 'concerned re-establishing their international standing. The criticism focused on the state's restriction of civil and political rights as well as its treatment of ethnic and religious minorities. Prior to the publication of its new China policy in 1995, the EU had already issued a new Asia policy and this, too, had adopted a conciliatory tone on human rights. The Human Rights Dialogue was thus considered one instrument among several and not the exclusive route through which the EU would raise human rights concerns China.