UK: Amnesty deeply concerned over Cable's comments on the importance of human rights in China trip

Amnesty International UK today reacted with dismay to comments from the Business Secretary Vince Cable on the Today programme this morning that suggested a UK Government-led delegation to China will not raise human rights during a trip to the country this week.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen, said: “Vince Cable’s comments are hugely disappointing. It is unbelievable that the largest UK Government delegation to China in a generation will put trade before human rights.

“Just a few days ago, David Cameron insisted that human rights will be raised on the trip, but the Business Secretary appears to have contradicted that today.

“Nobody wants to be lectured, but the Chinese authorities need to face up to some hard truths.

“The Chinese authorities’ list of human rights abuses is as long as your arm – torture, forced labour, internet repression, unfair trials, and of course the death penalty. And their attitude to dissent borders on the incomprehensible.

“The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xiaobo, is currently serving an 11-year sentence on charges of ‘inciting subversion of state power’ imposed after an unfair trial.

“Liu is a prominent government critic who has repeatedly called for human rights protections, political accountability and democratisation in China.

“Shi Tao, a 40-year-old journalist, is serving a 10 year sentence for forwarding an email from the Government on how to report on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre to a human rights organisation.

“And in the last few days, we have seen the case of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, the creator of the sunflower seed installation at London’s Tate Modern. He is now under house arrest for describing the proposed demolition of his studio in Shanghai as ‘ridiculous’.

“To go to such a country and not to raise concerns about human rights is negligent.

“What price freedom of speech? What price torture? What price justice?

“Yesterday saw the election in Burma. China is a key trading partner with the Government there and has a unique ability to influence the new administration. Is Vince Cable also saying today that he no longer cares about the plight of the Burmese people who have suffered decades of repression?"

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