I don’t know if you noticed, but David Cameron popped over to China this week. His stated mission was to improve trade links between the two countries and garner profitable business deals for UK companies.
Whilst he was at it though, he raised concerns about the human rights situation in China. This is obviously a welcome move for us. Indeed, here at Amnesty we found it a little absurd that human rights was being cast as less of a priority, than increasing trade, see Knysna's blog from earlier in the week. But the PM did not go as far as naming names.
He spoke generally about “sincere and deeply held concerns”, but stopped short of citing specifics. Kate Allen spoke about the need to make reference to the brave individuals in a comment piece in the Telegraph on Monday, she said:
“Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, the creator of the sunflower seed installation at London’s Tate Modern, emerged from house arrest, imposed for describing the proposed demolition of his studio in Shanghai as "ridiculous", to give an interview on the Today programme. Knowing what consequences he could face, I was struck by his bravery in doing so.
If Ai Weiwei can speak out in this way, David Cameron owes it to him and to others in China to do so too when he speaks in the country”.
Here here, one of the people we should be shouting about, is Liu Xiaobo, jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner and we should be talking publicly about the persecution of his family, reported today.
Also, the sad case of Zhao Lianhai sentenced to two-and-a-half-years yesterday because he organised a support group for parents of babies who became ill after drinking tainted milk. A man the Chinese public rightly view as a protector of children, not a criminal. Perhaps David Cameron felt overwhelmed with the scale of cases he felt worthy of drawing attention to, and in the end mentioned none, in panic. If so, he should write a list to take with him to the promised talks focusing on human rights with China, in January.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.