The execution of a Chinese scientist and businessman who had been convicted of spying for Taiwan has drawn strong condemnation from the European Union, which had lobbied for the man's release.
The execution coincided with EU-China human rights talks
Wo Weihan, 60, who had lived in Austria during the 1990s and whose two daughters are Austrian citizens, was convicted in 2007 following a closed trial in which he had been charged with passing top secret Chinese military data to Taiwan.
A statement by the EU presidency on Friday, Nov. 28, said that the "European Union condemns in the strongest terms the execution of Mr. Wo."
"(The EU) deeply regrets the fact that China has not heeded the repeated calls by the European Union and several of its member states for this execution to be deferred and for the death sentence passed against Mr. Wo to be commuted," the statement said.
"The EU wishes to express its indignation at this execution, which comes just after the conclusion in Beijing of the EU-China human rights dialogue," the statement added.
Minister calls execution "intentional affront"
Earlier on Friday, Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik said that "from the point of view of the entire EU, this approach (of China) must be considered a virtually intentional affront."
The fact that the execution was carried out on the day of the human rights dialogue between the European Union and China "emphasizes the ruthlessness and coldness" of the decision, she added.
US-based Chinese human rights organization, the Dui Hua Foundation, said Friday that Wo had been allowed to see his family for the last time on Thursday, and had then been taken to a judicial facility where he was to be executed.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson told the state Xinhua news agency on Thursday that "Chinese citizen Wo Weihan broke the laws of the People's Republic of China. The sentence on him has been made by Chinese courts according to the law."
The information Wo was convicted of passing on to Taiwan included photocopies of publications accessed from the library of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as well as information about the health of a top Chinese leader.
Dui Hua estimates that between 5,000 and 6,000 executions were carried out by the Chinese state in 2007.
The EU statement concluded that "this execution seriously undermines the spirit of trust and mutual respect required for this EU-China dialogue on human rights."