Eindhoven pulls the plug on the city twinning with the Chinese city of Nanjing. This was decided by the city council on Tuesday evening. The reason is the human rights situation in China, where the Uyghur minority is oppressed.
A small majority of Eindhoven politicians agreed to cancel the city twinning, which has existed for more than 35 years. According to GroenLinks (green left party), Volt, SP (socialist party) and PvdA (labour pary), among others, ‘it is immoral to have a friendship with a city whose national government commits genocide against minorities’. The parties point to studies which conclude that Uighurs are being starved and tortured on a large scale. They emphasize that there are also Uyghurs living in Eindhoven.
“It’s about genocide. Then there is no other option. If human rights are not being listened to, then something must be done about it. This is the only signal we can give as Eindhoven”, Volt party chairman Jacco Rubenkamp explains. “We talk about human rights every day. In Qatar or Ukraine. The violations also happen in China. We must therefore break ties with Nanjing as soon as possible”, GroenLinks councilor Niels Tournoij adds.
Mayor Jeroen Dijsselbloem did not immediately go along with that on Tuesday evening. He suggested that we first get the facts straight and hold an extensive debate early next year. “These are difficult issues and we have to do this carefully. Such a city link has a history, although it is now on the back burner. Amnesty International also says that these types of partnerships can actually help to continue the conversation and raise issues. Whether that is the case here remains to be seen. We also have to take economic ties into account”.
The Ouderen Appèl (elderly appeal), VVD (people’s party for freedom and democracy) and CDA (christian democrats) in Eindhoven, among others, agreed with Dijsselbloem. “We would like to start a discussion with each other first. If you break the city link now, you isolate the people who are being oppressed. Then there will be no one left to talk to the Chinese government or representatives and raise human rights”, Niek Rennenberg of the elderly party said.
VVD council member DanielStijntjes: “You should not rush the decision to end such a city twinning, especially because you are dealing with different cultures. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t agree with breaking the band, but you have to do something like that carefully”.
Since 1985, there has been a twinning relationship with Nanjing. This includes economic cooperation between the cities. Last year, the Chinese Pavilion at Strijp-S opened. The Chinese city of millions donated this pavilion to Eindhoven to underline the mutual bond.
Translated by: Bob