For all the tea in China: First Minister must raise human rights issues with trading partners

As the First Minister visits China, Amnesty International is demanding that he raises human rights issues with his counterparts, highlighting their campaign using China Tea.

In contrast to Scottish Ministers, who have explicitly included human rights issues in their engagement with China, previous Welsh Governments have sought to develop trade links whilst not tackling serious concerns about human rights.

Working with Waterloo Tea in Cardiff, Amnesty International have branded packets of exquisite Yunnan White tea as Amnestea to deliver to Ministers and Assembly Members.

Cathy Owens, Programme Director for Wales said:

“Our trade links with China have enriched our culture as well as increased our exports, and we must ensure that in return, we take every opportunity we can to share our respect for human rights and demand that the authorities in China address horrendous attacks on freedom.”

“We have previously published a dossier of day to day stories of abuse and mistreatment in Chongqing, the province with whom we have a trade and culture agreement.

Previous Welsh Governments have refused to consider the matter, arguing that foreign relations are not devolved. But the First Minister is in China because economic and cultural relations are devolved, and as our devolved administration matures and develops, it cannot continue to operate in a value-free bubble, ignoring the serious rights violations in countries where we spend millions in Welsh Government investment.

Jenny Rathbone, AM for Cardiff Central said:

“We have to make sure that we consider the rights of the citizens of China as well as economic prosperity. I know that the First Minister has a real interest in developing   economic and cultural links with China , which I share. His visit to the country must also be a brilliant opportunity to push the case for improved human rights.”

“Nobel Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo remains in prison, and many other internal critics have been silenced.  Much responsibility rests with the international community and visiting leaders to influence  the Chinese authorities to honour their promises of human rights reform.”

Kasim Ali, Owner of Waterloo Tea said:

“We are really pleased to work with Amnesty International and Jenny Rathbone to raise human rights issues in China.”

“The tea we have suggested is made by people from the Dai, Lahu and Bulang ethnic minorities in Yunnan, who have cultivated tea from ancient trees for more than 1300 years. These are Fair Trade Certified teas that support a better life for the families in Yunnan through fair prices and community development.”

“The Assembly was established with human rights written into its DNA. This cannot just be about the human rights of people who live in Wales. We share the same human rights with the people of Tahrir Square and Tiananmen Square.”

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