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UK’s Foreign Secretary raised human rights, Tibet on China visit

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(TibetanReview.net, Sep02’23) – British foreign secretary James Cleverly has said he had raised human rights concerns at “every single one” of his meetings with top Chinese officials, as he made a state visit to Beijing on Aug 30, reported the AFP Aug 31. He was visiting Beijing to “manage” the country’s relationship with China and raise human rights concerns as well as the country’s support for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in the conflict with Ukraine, noted the PTI news Aug 31.

“I’ve had a number of conversations with senior representatives of the Chinese government and I have raised human rights in every single one of those meetings,” the AFP quoted Cleverly as saying.

“This is an issue that is discussed extensively not just bilaterally, but at the United Nations,” he has said.

“I think the Chinese government understand the UK is consistent in our approach… and I will keep raising these issues with (them).”

China’s size, influence and complexity mean Britain’s relationship with Beijing will be “complicated and sophisticated”, he has said.

“We are clear-eyed about the areas where we have fundamental disagreements with China, and I raise those issues when we meet,” Cleverly has added.

“We will pursue a pragmatic working relationship, but that does of course mean raising the issues where we disagree.”

* * *

This was the first high-level British government visit to China in over five years and came amid strained UK-China relations. The British government has stressed that the visit aligned its goals of cooperation with allies in the Indo-Pacific and that global issues of concern such as climate change cannot be tackled without engaging with Beijing.

Cleverly was scheduled for bilateral meetings with China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Wang Yi, and Vice President Han Zheng.

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) earlier said Cleverly’s trip to Beijing was aimed at strengthening channels of communication to further and protect British interests.

“The Foreign Secretary will say that China’s global significance comes with a responsibility on international security – helping to end Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, diffusing tensions in the South China Sea and ceasing malign activity in cyberspace,” FCDO had said.

Also, “during his visit, the Foreign Secretary will raise Beijing’s human rights obligations, including in relation to communities in Xinjiang and Tibet. He will also challenge China on the erosion of autonomy, rights and freedoms in Hong Kong under the Beijing-imposed National Security Law, as well as other UK interests including the sanctions placed on UK MPs,” it was quoted as saying.

Speaking to the BBC in Beijing, Cleverly has said his visit was an opportunity to speak “directly and unambiguously” on areas of disagreement and “work together where it is in our mutual interest to do so”.

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