Is Cameron betraying his electorate?
David Cameron will betray the British public if he fails to publicly raise human rights concerns in China. 74 per cent of British adults think that human rights in Tibet are at least as important as good trade relations with China, a recent ICM poll commissioned by Free Tibet shows (1).
Cameron’s silence on human rights when in China would also constitute a corruption of the coalition government’s manifesto commitment to “seek a closer engagement with China, while standing firm on human rights”.
Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said:
“To turn a blind eye to very serious human rights concerns or to reduce human rights concerns to at best private dialogues behind closed doors is to betray both the British public and the people who are repressed by the Chinese regime. Representing Britain means representing the British people not just British businesses; Mr Cameron must publicly raise human rights concerns, including Tibet, to reflect the values of his electorate.”
The high level dialogues on human rights that Mr Cameron is using to excuse his silence have completely failed. The Foreign Affairs Select Committee itself said in its most recent Annual Report (2) that “there is little evidence that the British Government’s policy of constructive dialogue with China has led to any significant improvements in the human rights situation.” Thirteen years of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue has failed to deliver results and has become a cosmetic, tick-boxing exercise aimed at deflecting criticism.
The combination of private conversations in China and public statements in the UK is aimed at appeasing both the Chinese government and UK domestic audiences but it manifestly fails to achieve improvements in human rights for people in Tibet and China.
The focus on individual cases of concern fails to recognise that for each person who is released scores more remain in detention and at risk. Nor is such an approach effective: seven months after the most recent UK-China Human Rights Dialogue, China has failed to respond to a single one of the individual cases raised by the UK delegation. UK human rights strategy must address the systemic issues that affect millions of Tibetan and Chinese people.
For further information and interviews contact:
t: 0044 207 324 4605
m: 0044 7971 479 515
1) ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,000 adults aged 18+ by telephone from 29 October – 1 November 2010. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
Please cite Free Tibet if you use information from this poll.
Q1. For you, is protecting human rights in Tibet more important, less important or equally as important as maintaining good trade relations with China?
More important: 36%
Equally as important: 38%
Less important: 13%
Neither are important: 2%
Don’t know: 12%
Q2. Some people think that Tibet should continue to be ruled by China, others think it should be part of China but be left to rule itself, and others think it should be independent of China. Which of these best describes what you think?
Tibet should continue to be ruled by China: 3%
Tibet should be part of China but left to rule itself: 18%
Tibet should be independent of China: 58%
NET autonomy/independence: 76%
Don’t know: 20%
2) The Foreign Affairs Select Committee 2009 Annual Review