What awaits Xi Jinping in London when it comes to human rights defenders?

October 20, 2015

Today’s state visit by the Chinese President Xi Jinping to the UK has led to considerable attention to the issue of human rights defenders.

Under the nice title “Man Threatens State Banquet” former AI staff member Richard Reoch posted a blog on the Huffington Post (UK) on 19 October 2015:

The Queen will host the President of China as her guest of honour. Some 170 guests will attend in full formal attire and raise their glasses to welcome him. But the gracious decorum has been threatened by one of those who will attend. He attaches great importance to British values, and is proposing to talk about them during the banquet. The Daily Mail this week warned: “Jeremy Corbyn may embarrass the Queen by raising human rights abuses with the Chinese president at a state banquet next week“.

Human rights are no longer a “top priority” for the government, Sir Simon McDonald, Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office, told MPs just before Chancellor George Osborne visited China. Leading a trade delegation, the chancellor remained mute on the country’s human rights record. Sir Simon said that human rights no longer had the “profile” within his department that they had “in the past”.

 

It is these [Magna Carta] values that Jeremy Corbyn, now Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, is seeking to raise with the Chinese President during his state visit to London next week.

…China’s human rights record, not only in Tibet, but across its territory remains a cause for deep concern. A recent Amnesty International report cited continuing violations on freedoms of religious belief, expression, association and assembly. It also cited the the use of torture and the country’s lucrative trade in torture equipment. The death penalty remains in place; last year alone 2,400 people were executed. At particular risk were “human rights defenders” it said. They “continued to risk harassment, arbitrary detention, imprisonment, and torture and other ill-treatment for their legitimate human rights work.”

So what do those courageous Chinese citizens who are challenging their government — one of the most powerful states in the world – expect from us in Britain, the home of Magna Carta? That we would be afraid of embarrassing the Queen and her guest – their president – by using rude words like “torture” and “ill-treatment” over dinner?

Jeremy Corbyn’s answer is clear. He has been an embarrassing figure most of his life, speaking out on human rights issues worldwide, as seen below.

2015-10-16-1445018027-332881-croppedfullsizerender.jpg

“I have huge admiration for human rights defenders all over the world. I’ve met hundreds of these very brave people during my lifetime working on international issues,” Jeremy Corbyn told the recent Labour Party conference.

“I’ve been standing up for human rights, challenging oppressive regimes for 30 years as a backbench MP. Just because I’ve become the leader of this party, I’m not going to stop standing up on those issues or being that activist,” he declared.

Mr Corbyn’s office has confirmed that he is seeking a meeting with the Chinese delegation and has not ruled out bringing the issue up at the state dinner.

He may be standing up for a set of centuries’ old British values that are no longer the currency of government.

Recently, the Prime Minister agreed not to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama “in the foreseeable future” after he angered the Chinese by meeting the Tibetan leader in 2012. Last week, His Holiness was asked by The Spectator magazine what he would say to Mr Cameron if the two did meet. “Money, money, money,” said His Holiness. “That’s what this is about. Where is morality?

You can follow Richard Reoch on Twitter

The Independent refers to the open letter (signed by Amnesty International UK, the Tibet Society and Tibet Relief Fund, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Students for a Free Tibet, Uighur activists and other Tibetan and human rights organisations) sent to Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss Chinese human rights violations in a “principled, forceful, and specific way”. Downing Street have pledged that “nothing would be off the table” when Cameron welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping amid accusations that ministers are playing down worries about the Beijing government.

The Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman insisted that China’s record on human rights and claims it initiated cyber-attacks on other countries would be on the agenda during detailed talks this week. The Prime Minister has also pledged to personally raise the issue of subsidized Chinese steel during talks with the Chinese leader.

Click here for full version of the Open Letter.

A blog post written by AI staff (Two Versions of China: Repression and Resistance). The repression is represented by the government and the Party and the post metes out details on that.

The resistance aspect in the this post is represented by a human rights defender. Her name was Cao Shunli. She died in police custody on 14 March 2014.  For more on her, see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/cao-shunli/

Today, the UK is faced with two versions of China. Choosing Xi Jinping’s China, the UK will be bought and fooled on its knees. Choosing Cao Shunli’s China, the UK will stand in solidarity with the people of China, which will eventually also benefit the people of Britain.

http://www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/countdown-china/two-versions-china-repression-and-resistance

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