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China says no place for human rights in golden era in relations with Britain

Chinese president, Xi Jinping.
Chinese president, Xi Jinping. (Courtesy: India Today)

(TibetanReview.net, Oct19, 2015) – Apart from letting it be known that the Chinese president will bring his own drinking water to the Buckingham Palace banquet and turbot and crab would not do for starter, China has made it clear that it will not stand any lecturing on human rights if a golden era in Sino-UK relationship was to be heralded during Xi Jinping’s Oct 20-23 state visit.

Good relations hang in the balance, the UPI news agency Oct 16 cited China’s ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, as saying. “We don’t shy away from talking about human rights. What we are against is to use human rights to interfere with other countries’ internal affairs and to try to impose your own system on to others,” Liu was quoted as telling a press conference.

Liu has added that Xi would feel offended if human rights were raised as a topic of discussion.

The report noted that while Britain’s economic interests had become a priority in its dealings with China, British critics had refused to back down on political issues that highlight China’s authoritarian rule. It cited Jeremy Corbyn, the Labor leader, as having vowed to raise human rights as an issue, possibly at a state banquet hosted by Queen Elizabeth II. Besides, the Prince of Wales, a friend of the Dalai Lama, is known to have stood his ground in his decision to skip the banquet.

A commentary by China’s official Xinhua news agency Oct 16 said that while good relations will be mutually beneficial to the two countries, Britain had in the past paid the price for bringing the Tibet issue into the picture. It said: “Unfortunately a few years ago these potential benefits were blocked by ill-judged moves by Britain. Prime Minister David Cameron held a meeting with the Dalai Lama – a person pretending to be a purely religious figure but who actually leads a separatist political movement. This was an intervention in China’s internal affairs and contrary to Britain’s unequivocal recognition of Tibet as part of China. It was rather like de Gaulle’s notorious ‘Vive Le Quebec Libre!’ declaration regarding Canada. This naturally led to a frost in relations – China refusing to hold high level meetings for over a year.”

The commentary added that while both sides lost from this, China being a rising economy, Britain lost more. And it added: “Fortunately the British government reversed this approach and no further meetings have been held, and relations warmed.”

The commentary concluded that from going through a difficult period China-Britain relations currently were a model of how countries should interact.

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