Despite a parliamentary summon, British gov’t continues to ignore rights concerns during China’s Xi’s visit

Westminster Palace.
Westminster Palace.

(, Oct24, 2015) – The Speaker of the British House of Commons on Oct 22 ordered a Foreign Office minister to respond to cross-party concerns about the government’s ignoring of human rights complaints during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ongoing state visit to the country but has only received evasive responses. MPs from all sides demanded to know whether Prime Minister David Cameron had raised specific human rights issues during the glittering state visit of Mr Xi, reported Oct 22.

In his response, Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire has begun by saying the state visit was successful but still under way. He has then pointed out that the Chinese president at his Downing Street press conference had said “all countries need to continuously improve and strengthen their human-rights record to meet the needs of the time and people”.

However, Swire was reluctant to refer to specific human rights cases, or how they had been raised on the visit. Rather, he has said the issues had already been raised in the UK-China annual human rights dialogue in April.

While acknowledging that “as many as 200 human rights lawyers in China have been questioned or detained since Jul 9 and the spaces in which they operate are seriously constrained” Swire has refused to call for their release. Rather, he has pointed out that Britain had already supported an EU statement on Jul 15 condemning the detentions.

The report said it was Fiona Bruce, a Tory MP and the chairwoman of the party’s human-rights commission, who tabled an urgent question warning ministers not to be silent on human rights in China, prompting Mr Swire to come to the House.

Tim Loughton, a former Conservative minister, was reported to have asked: “Why, in the UK, where democracy is built on the principle of free speech, were protesters in the Mall this week, exercising their right to draw attention to human rights abuses in Tibet, corralled behind barricades at the back while Chinese state-sponsored cheerleaders were given ‘Love China’ T-shirts from Chinese diplomatic bags and given prime position at the front?”

Meanwhile, Britain has been accused of doing the bidding of the Chinese regime after UK police raided the family home of a Tiananmen Square survivor – for standing in the road holding up protest banners in Central London, reported Oct 23. The survivor, Shao Jiang, 47, had been arrested after being “brutally manhandled” by police officers on Oct 20 in the street outside London’s Mansion House where a reception was being held for Mr Xi. Police were reported to have taken away his computer equipment.


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