“There is no trade-off in our relationship. It is not about either discussing trade or human rights. Britain and China have such a strong and developed relationship We have a dialogue that covers all these issues and nothing is off limits in the discussion we have…we are different countries, we have different histories, different stages of development. We should show each other respect. But we’re very clear that political and economic development should go hand in hand, one supports the other.”
Cameron, it seems, did very politely raise the unfortunate little issue of so-called “human rights” with Mr Wen during the Chinese premier’s visit to these shores. But, naturally, he didn’t want to make too much of a fuss, what with £1.4 million worth of trade agreements on the table and the prospect of doubling two-way trade between the UK and China by 2015. Not to mention the prospect of the British poultry market being allowed to export to China and a deal for the supply of UK pigs for China being agreed.
Meanwhile in my home town of Brummagem, Mr Wen visited the MG plant at Longbridge and unveiled the new MG6C Magnette model at the factory that is now owned by the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation – the only business he visited during his stay in the UK. Brum Council’s (Lib Dem) deputy leader Paul Tilsely could scarcely contain himself: “The Chinese Premier flew into Birmingham Airport, he stayed at the Hyatt hotel in the city and he visited the MG plant which is a great coup for Birmingham.”
Former CBI boss and ex-trade minister Digby Jones put things more bluntly: “What we must do is accentuate [sic] to China and its different companies over the next 25 years that if it wants to invest in Europe, it should invest in Britain, and if it wants to invest in Britain, it should invest in Birmingham and the wider West Midlands. It means that we must ensure that the Chinese premier understands that our communications are good in Birmingham, and also understands we have a stable political environment, and that we have a tradition of making things, which is something that nthe Chinese can dip into”, he told the Birmingham Post.
Well, that’s all hunky-dory, then, isn’t it? You’d never guess that Wen Jiabao is the leader of a country that for years has consistently been in the bottom dozen or so states when it comes to human rights, as monitored by NGO’s and human rights organisations
. Political, religious and trade union rights are all viciously restricted (at least 14 workers at the Foxconn plant have commited suicide
due to conditions there) , there is no free press, physical violence by the state towards journalists and bloggers is harsh and seems to be getting worse. Ethnic minorities are persecuted: Uigar bloggers and journalists were, in 2010, sentenced to long prison terms after unfair trials and, of course, Tibet is still denied independence or even any degree of devolution. Freedom of movement is heavily restricted under the Hukou
system that has been compared to ‘apartheid’ in its effects on rural workers, while the One-Child policy (though releaxed in 2002) continues to lead to forced abortions, female infanticide and forced sterilisations. China executes more people each year than the rest of the world combined.
So although the Tories and the capitalists were brown-nosing Mr Wen, naturally the Left and the Anti-War movement were out protesting?
Were they, fuck!
The only protests were small events at Longbridge and in London organised by the Falun Gong religious sect and the Free Tibet campaign. No-one from the organised left attended.