(TibetanReview.net, Apr16, 2014) – China has cancelled on Apr 14 a scheduled human rights dialogue with Britain, apparently angered by the latter’s comments on its rights record in its annual human rights report released the week before. China’s nod to resume the dialogue, to be held in London on Apr 16, was hailed by Prime Minister David Cameron as a significant achievement during his visit to Beijing in Dec 2013.
The Chinese walkout came four days after Britain published a list of concerns about the human rights situation in China. These included increased restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly in 2013. It also referred to reports of “the forcible suppression of ethnic unrest in Tibet and Xinjiang.”
China holds bilateral human rights dialogues with many Western governments, including the USA, UK, EU and Australia, on condition that they do not publicly criticize its record. It had walked out of the dialogue with other countries as well, often for years. These dialogues are held behind closed door and human rights groups have criticized them as of no value since they do not lead to any tangible improvement in the human rights situation in China.
Britain has claimed that China has only postponed the dialogue. Reuters Apr 14 quoted a Foreign Office spokeswoman as saying in a statement, “It is not for us to say why it was postponed. We are now in discussion to agree new dates.”
However, a scmp.com report Apr 15 quoted the Chinese foreign ministry as saying: “The principle of equality and mutual respect is the essential basis for China and the UK to carry out dialogue and communication on human rights.
“The UK should stop making irresponsible comments and using human rights issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs, to create the conditions for the human rights dialogue between China and the UK in the next round.”