As Tories suck up to Chinese ruling class, Amnesty protests over human rights

October 20, 2015 at 1:05 pm (apologists and collaborators, China, Civil liberties, David Cameron, democracy, Free Speech, Human rights, posted by JD)

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As Cameron and Osborne suck up to Xi Jinping, Amnesty International’s Allan Hogarth reminds us of that little matter called “human rights”:

As President Xi Jinping’s plane hits the tarmac he must be excited about the royal welcome that he’ll be getting in the UK – the red carpet has been rolled out, the flags raised and the banquet prepared!

I’m sure he’ll be keen to enjoy the hospitality of his hosts, whilst he and the UK Government get down to business. However, it would appear there is going to be one big elephant locked out of the room – human rights.

There has been lots of talk about China’s economic progress. People talk enthusiastically about progress made for Chinese citizens, better standards of living, economic security, and a growing middle class.

This may well be true and is indeed welcome. But when it comes to human rights we’ve witnessed a marked deterioration since President Xi came to office in 2012.

China is in the middle of its most intense crackdown on human rights for years and the human rights of ordinary Chinese citizens – including that growing middle class – must not be ignored in order to secure trade deals.

David Cameron must remember that China executed more than the rest of the world put together in 2014, often after trials that didn’t meet international standards.

The Prime Minister must ask President Xi about the nationwide operation that, in July, targeted and detained at least 248 lawyers and activists, 29 of whom still remain in police custody.

And what about the seven lawyers and five activists under ‘residential surveillance in a designated place’ – a process in which police are allowed to hold criminal suspects for up to six months outside of the formal detention system? This often amounts to enforced disappearance, a violation of international law.

As Chinese citizens are finding their economic freedom, perhaps Mr Cameron will raise concerns about other freedoms?

In Tibetan areas, there continue to be tight restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of religion. The Zhejiang provincial government is waging a campaign to demolish Christian churches and tear down crosses and crucifixes. All unauthorised forms of peaceful religious worship – including Buddhist, Muslim, and Christian house churches – can be subjected to suppression and criminal sanctions.

As President Xi will be staying with the Head of the Anglican Church, perhaps Mr Cameron would find it appropriate to raise these issues with the President?

The space for civil society in China is shrinking when it should be cherished and nurtured. Yet the Chinese authorities appear determined to clamp down on anyone that they deem a threat.

The catch all law of ‘picking quarrels and causing trouble’ allows the government to arrest, detain and silence those that question them.

Recent targets include the New Citizen Movement, a loose network of activists dedicated to the principles of constitutionalism, government transparency and civic responsibility – hardly firebrands?

Add to this that the authorities are considering introducing a ‘Foreign NGO Management Law’ that could put at risk forms of cooperation between UK and Chinese civil society. Mr Cameron must urge President Xi not to pass this law.

Of course, these are all issues that the Chinese will not want raising during the President’s visit.

The Chinese Ambassador has been quick to discourage any mentions of human rights. Any mention (of course) would be ‘embarrassing for the UK’ and offensive to China.

Well I’m sorry Mr Ambassador, but human rights activists actually find your comments offensive. I’m also sure that those brave Chinese activists who languish in your prisons, subject to harassment and restrictions would also be offended if these issues aren’t raised.

It is for these people that David Cameron should raise human rights issues with President Xi. He doesn’t have to ‘offend’ him, he’s a politician and perfectly capable of doing so with in a principled, forceful and specific way, both publicly and in private.

There may be thousands of miles between the UK and China, but the brave human rights lawyers, activists and defenders there are watching developments here.

This is Mr Cameron’s opportunity to show that the UK doesn’t put trade and prosperity above people – and that is why we stand together with the Chinese people in defence of human rights.

Follow @amnestyuk on Twitter as hundreds protest outside Buckingham Palace during President Xi Jinping’s visit

7 Comments

  1. Howard Fuller said,

    Where was the so-called anti-imperialist left? Do they share ex-IMG leader John Ross’s view that China has made a massive contribution to Human Rights” but not the dreadful one promoted by the West.

    Not a “Socialist” newspaper seller in site when it comes to Tibet or China or women’s oppression under Islam….

  2. Political tourist said,

    Good to see the British Establishmen begging the Chinese for all their worth.

  3. Steven Johnston said,

    This is a sickner for the Morning Star lot, apparently Corbyn (their hero) is not happy and wants to ask all sorts of difficult questions to the Chinese comrades, whereas, Dave, the evil Tory, does not. Damn, which side do they take?

    • Jim Denham said,

      The ‘Morning Star’ (usually a firm and uncritical supporter of the Chinese ruling class), ties itself up in knots in this editorial:

      http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-7c46-Risks-of-the-China-visit#.VibHlbvluM8

      Tuesday 20th

      posted by Morning Star in Editorial

      DAVID CAMERON and George Osborne set much store by the success of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit, which begins today.

      Well they might. Despite the hype around a Chinese slowdown, its economy continues to grow at more than double the rate of any Western nation’s. It is set to account for well over a third of all global growth this year.

      Chinese and British authorities are united in a desire for increased trade, and there is nothing to object to in that.

      China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty over the past couple of decades and the “economic miracle” continues, with greater numbers of Chinese workers in a position to buy Western products every year. China is already our fifth-biggest export market.

      Beijing is also keen to invest in Britain. But the relationship unfolding between our countries risks being an unequal one.

      This is down to the contrast between the attitudes of the British and Chinese governments.

      Chinese investment in domestic industry and infrastructure is massive, Britain’s is negligible. A contrast epitomised by the shutdown of the Redcar furnaces in the week we play host to the world’s biggest steel producer.

      China is a global leader in green technology — particularly solar and wind power — and this summer unveiled a £4-trillion-plus green investment plan to cut its emissions, where Cameron and Osborne have slashed subsidies for renewable energy and prioritise dirty and dangerous “alternatives” such as fracking and nuclear.

      Indeed, nuclear energy will be one of the key areas of debate this week as China gets ready to build a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point.

      The venture will win French transnational EDF and its Chinese public-sector partners decades of subsidised super-profits as a price three times the market rate has been guaranteed by our government for a 35-year period.

      It builds on existing Chinese investments in our infrastructure, which include stakes in Heathrow airport and Thames Water.

      Voices in the liberal press have denounced China’s involvement as a “security risk.” The Morning Star does not share their knee-jerk suspicion of Beijing, which is based on hostility to its political system rather than evidence.

      But socialists should note that China would be unlikely to tolerate such a deal in reverse.

      Alongside other “strategically important sectors” which represent the commanding heights of the economy — oil, coal, transport, telecoms, finance and more — public control of “power generation and distribution” is enshrined in Chinese law.

      It was among red lines introduced in 2006, when then State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission chairman Li Rongrong noted: “State capital must play a leading role in these sectors, which are the vital arteries of the national economy and essential to national security.”

      Details on the scale of permissible private investment have fluctuated since, but public-sector dominance remains.

      Our own government — which has no concept of “national interest” as distinct from the profits made by private firms, often at taxpayers’ expense — will not lift a finger to give the British public a similar controlling stake in our own economy.

      It’s no use condemning China for taking up contracts that will give it handsome returns, any more than we can blame French and German state-owned rail firms for using profits made on our privatised network to improve services back home. They’re operating in their own people’s interests.

      But we have a right to demand that our own representatives in Parliament do the same. Energy, water and transport are natural monopolies. They belong in public hands.

  4. Steven Johnston said,

    After Panorama did an undercover investigation about the appalling working conditions in Apple’s Chinese factories, I put that to supporters of the CCP. Wasn’t that worse than anything here I said? Weren’t the Chinese workers in these factories treated like out working class were in the 19th Century? Their answer? “well you see big queues for these jobs, they are highly sought after”. Yes but what kind of justification is that for exploitation? All that shows is that once you sign up to work for Apple, it’s difficult to leave, unless you leave in a box and other jobs in China must be worse.
    What controlling stake do workers in China have in their own economy; none! You do what you are told or else.
    But it is interesting to see that they are silent on Corbyn. As he was the one that wanted to ask difficult questions about their human rights record. Wonder what they made of the Chinese Premier meeting Prince Charles and no doubt dining in the lap of luxury…is was bad for Charles to do that but good for him and his wife?

  5. Steven Johnston said,

    Mind you, I’m not surprised conservatives get on with communists. Both are ideologically driven and come from a “firm” political base. Each are just the other side of the coin to each other. One believes that the workers should be exploited by private hands, the other belives the explotation should be carried out by the state.
    Vis-a-vis N Korea, I believe it will the Chinese that resolve that pariah state and not the Americans.

  6. Peter Thomson said,

    Nice to see the art of arze licking isn’t dead. Toni Blayer was good at it with the US and Libya, George and Dave have found true love in the East.

    What about our friends in HK, Taiwan and the Asean countries? Was island building in the middle of the South China Sea mentioned?

    Did you hear this on the Today programme this morning?
    ‘The rule of law doesn’t really exist in China’
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p035zs5x

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