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UK: James Cleverly ‘must challenge’ Chinese government over ever-expanding repression

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Foreign Secretary should make a public call for the release of businessman Jimmy Lai and others jailed in Hong Kong, and an end to harassment of exiles in UK

Cleverly should tackle Chinese authorities over ‘industrial-scale’ human rights abuses against Uyghurs in Xinjiang

‘James Cleverly must ensure that human rights issues provide the tone and substance to everything he does while in China’ - Sacha Deshmukh

Commenting on Foreign Secretary James Cleverly’s visit to China this week, Sacha Deshmukh, Chief Executive of Amnesty International UK, said:

“This trip is a key test of the UK’s commitment to international human rights and the rule of law, and James Cleverly must ensure that human rights issues provide the tone and substance to everything he does while in China.

“The Foreign Secretary must go well beyond promises to ‘raise’ human rights issues behind closed doors. Mr Cleverly should talk publicly about China’s appalling human rights record - before, during and after his visit.

“The Chinese authorities are responsible for a catalogue of human rights horrors, including industrial-scale human rights abuses against Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the meting out of severe punishments for journalists, labour rights activists and others deemed to have ‘subverted state power’, and the brutal crushing of free speech and peaceful activism in Hong Kong.

“In particular, the Foreign Secretary must challenge the Chinese authorities over their ever-expanding network of repression, including the sinister intimidation of Chinese dissidents in the UK, the placing of bounties on people’s heads, and the ongoing arrests in Hong Kong of people for their alleged ‘affiliation’ with overseas activists.

“Among others, Mr Cleverly should call for the release of the unjustly-imprisoned businessman Jimmy Lai, the lawyer Chow Hang-tung and the women’s rights activist Sophia Huang Xueqin, and he must make clear that the UK wants to see Hong Kong's notorious national security laws repealed as soon as possible.

“Thousands of persecuted people in Hong Kong and mainland China will be watching this trip closely and expecting James Cleverly to speak up for them, negotiate for them, and on his return to the UK be able to say he’s genuinely stood up for their rights.” 

China’s human rights record

The Chinese authorities routinely target critics of Government policies via pervasive online censorship, arbitrary arrest and detention. Human rights defenders, pro-democracy activists and religious leaders and practitioners have been among those subjected to systematic persecution. The widespread repression of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet has continued despite international criticism. In Hong Kong, journalists, broadcasters and book publishers have been among those prosecuted and imprisoned under the territory’s notorious National Security Law and other repressive legislation, while civil society organisations both in Hong Kong and abroad have faced criminal charges or harassment for their legitimate activities. For more information on China’s human rights violations, go here.

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