Cameron backs failed UK-China human rights mechanism

Monday, 9 January 2012

The ineffectual UK-China Human Rights Dialogue, taking place behind closed doors in Beijing this week (1), is the only forum in which the David Cameron’s government appears to be willing to address human rights concerns with China. This is despite a crisis that has led to three self-immolations in Tibet in the last four days (2).


Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said:

“David Cameron has placed great weight on the Human Rights Dialogue, excusing his silence on human rights with China by referring to its existence (3). However, in fifteen years the dialogue has failed to deliver any improvements in human rights for the people of Tibet and China.

“Fifteen Tibetans have set fire to themselves in the last ten months in protest at Chinese policies in Tibet, and yet the UK government has remained silent. The timings of the three most recent self-immolations in the past four days must surely persuade the British government to take a firm line on human rights with China when officials meet for the human rights dialogue. We can only expect the self-immolations will continue in Tibet for as long as governments turn a blind eye to the desperate situation there.”

The Dialogue appears to exist solely to deflect criticism, allowing both governments to say they address human rights concerns, but it fails to deliver results; this conclusion is echoed by the UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee which stated 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 (4)”.

Suspension of the Dialogue until China demonstrates that it takes the process seriously (5) would send a strong message to the Chinese regime that Britain means business when it comes to human rights.

Ends

Notes to Editor

(1) The next round of the UK China Human Rights Dialogue takes place on 10-11 January 2012 in China.

(2) http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/selfimmolations

(3) 9 November 2010, Beijing

(4) The Foreign Affairs Select Committee 2009 Annual Review

(5) China has shown disdain for the process on numerous occasions, for example, postponing it in order to show displeasure at the British government’s response to the execution of Briton Akmal Shaikh in 2009, failing to respond to a single one of the individual cases raised by the UK delegation at the dialogues in 2010 or 2011.

(6) The coalition government’s manifesto committed to “seek[ing] a closer engagement with China, while standing firm on human rights”.

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 Stephanie Brigden
E: stephanie@freetibet.org
T: +44 (0)20 7324 4605
M: +44 (0)7971 479515