Premier Wen in London: Buying Britain's values for a Chinese song?
When David Cameron meets Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday, his commitment to no longer making a choice between Britain’s interests and our values, made following the fall of the Egyptian regime, will be put to the test.
Despite difficult financial times, Britons still value human rights: three quarters of the British public consider protecting human rights in Tibet as being at least as important as maintaining good trade relations with China (2).
Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said:
“When standing beside the Chinese Premier in the coming days, we therefore expect the Prime Minister to take a strong, public position on human rights in Tibet.”
Wen Jiabao himself speaks of reform when he is outside China, and will be conscious that in 2012 he will be passing on his legacy to the next generation of Chinese Communist Party leaders and to the world’s history books. As things stand, Chinese concerns over internal security are fuelling an increasingly vicious cycle of repression and protest in Tibet and China. Analysts argue that the human rights situation is at its worst since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 (3). Premier Wen should heed the Prime Minister’s words following his visit to Tahir Square that “denying people their basic rights does not preserve stability – rather, the reverse”.
Up to this point, successive British governments have played a two-handed game with the Chinese government and the British public. They have kept China happy by making only the most veiled of veiled references to human rights when standing beside Chinese counterparts or in front of Chinese audiences, but have spoken out for democracy and human rights in other forums to keep domestic, UK audiences on-side. It is time for a more coherent approach.
Notes to Editor
1) Following the Jasmine Revolution in Egypt, National Assembly, Kuwait, 22 February 2011.
2) 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%
3) Tibet is currently closed to foreign visitors for the second time in 2011 as China prepares for rather one-sided celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the ‘peaceful liberation’ of Tibet and the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. Tibetan monks and laypeople in Ngaba, Eastern Tibet remain under the strict control of Chinese military forces following unrest that began in March when a young monk died after setting fire to himself; Tibetans in Kandze, also in Eastern Tibet, are reported to have been staging protests throughout June, with reports of protesters being beaten and detained. Information coming out of Tibet is severely restricted due to the severe penalties for Tibetans convicted of passing information to the outside world and the ban on foreign media.
2011 has seen protests by citizens not just in Tibet, but also in Inner Mongolia, Hunan, Beijing, Shanghai to name but a few. There were an estimated 180,000 such ‘mass incidents’ across China in 2010, and government spending on ‘public security’ is increasing year on year, outstripping spending on defence this year by millions of Yuan. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-06/china-s-spending-on-internal-po...
4) Free Tibet will be protesting against Wen Jiabao while he is in London
Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden will be attending the protests and will be available for comment. She can be contacted on: +44 (0)7971 479515
Sunday 26 June 2011, 3 – 6pm
Harvey Nicholls, Opposite the Mandarin Hotel, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
Monday 27 June 2011, 11am – 1pm
10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA
Monday 27 June 2011, 2 – 3:30pm
The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG
Photographs from the protests will be available from Harriet@freetibet.org / +44 (0)207 324 4605
Free Tibet is an international campaigning organisation that stands for the right of Tibetans to determine their own future. We campaign for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the fundamental human rights of Tibetans to be respected.
For further information and interviews please contact Free Tibet’s Director <a href="http://www.freetibet.org/contact-us">Stephanie Brigden</a>
T: +44 (0)20 7324 4605
M: +44 (0)7971 479515