Tibet: China Cancels Human Rights Dialogue With UK
China has cancelled scheduled human rights talks with the United Kingdom, as it accused the UK to use human right issues to interfere with the Peoples’ Republic’s internal affairs.
Below is an article from The Guardian:
China has cancelled this week's bilateral human rights dialogue with Britain, which David Cameron highlighted as one of the "important achievements" of his high-profile trip to Beijing last year. Beijing accused the UK of making irresponsible comments and using human rights issues to interfere in its internal affairs.
The British Prime Minister Cameron had cited the resumption of the dialogue this spring as one of the successes of his December visit, which followed a diplomatic freeze because of his meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2012.
A Foreign Office spokesman told the Guardian: "We are disappointed that the Chinese government this week unilaterally postponed the dialogue, which was due to take place on 16 April. It is not for us to say why it was postponed.
"We are now in discussion to agree new dates for the dialogue. We consider the dialogue to be an important part of our bilateral relationship with China. It was agreed at the last UK-China summit in December 2013 by the prime minister and Premier Li [Keqiang]."
A No 10 spokeman went further saying: "We have registered our disappointment with the Chinese government. We believe a human rights Dialogue is essential, and are working on agreeing new dates."
China's foreign ministry said equality and mutual respect were essential for dialogue between China and the UK on human rights.
"The UK should stop making irresponsible comments and using human rights issues to interfere in China's internal affairs, to create the conditions for the human rights dialogue between China and the UK in the next round," it said.
The Foreign Office describes the dialogue as one of the main pillars of the UK's engagement with China over human rights. The Tibet Society said in a blogpost that it understood China did not agree with the agenda put forward by the UK and was angered by the UK's role at the recent UN Human Rights Council meeting about China's human rights record.
The UK is thought to have become involved in disputes between China and NGOs at the meeting. Chinese diplomats attempted to block a call by NGOs for a minute's silence in memory of Cao Shunli, a Chinese rights activist who died in custody on 14 March.
Cao, 52, was stopped en route to Geneva where she was headed for a human rights training programme in September, and formally arrested a month later for "picking quarrels and provoking trouble".
China's foreign ministry has described the criticism as "mistaken", adding that her rights had been ensured and that she received "conscientious and proactive treatment".
In 2010, China indefinitely postponed the dialogue shortly after the UK criticised the execution of Akmal Shaikh, a British citizen who had smuggled drugs but was believed to have serious mental health problems. However, it is thought that other issues may have been involved in the decision.
China has also repeatedly suspended its bilateral dialogue with the US.
Nicholas Bequelin, senior Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: "China is responding to a critique of its shortcomings on human rights by cutting back further on human rights engagement. I don't think that indicates that China is genuinely committed to the outcomes of this dialogue … China is trying to intimidate its international partners by walking away from the table."
Last year, submitting evidence to the foreign affairs select committee on the role of human rights in UK policy towards China, Human Rights Watch noted that, while it supported the dialogue in principal, the arrangement appeared to have delivered very little tangible improvement.
"What is there to show for all of those hours of discussion?
"We are also concerned that the existence of the dialogue allows ministers to say that human rights issues are being dealt with there, as opposed to being raised in meetings between foreign ministers or heads of state."
Supporters of bilateral dialogues say the system allows countries to raise specific cases of concern with Chinese officials and to address issues in more detail. But critics warn that it can lead to the sidelining of rights issues, which are then kept out of high-level meetings.
China's foreign ministry told the United States on Monday to stop "gesticulating" in its criticism of China's treatment of dissidents, after Washington urged Beijing to release a prominent activist.
The US last week said it was "deeply disappointed" at a Beijing court's decision to uphold a four-year jail sentence for Xu Zhiyong, an anti-corruption and children's education rights campaigner. The European Union also expressed concern.
Hua Chunying, from the foreign ministry, said Xu was a Chinese citizen who broke the law and was being punished because of it.
"We urge the United States to stop its gesticulating at China on such individual cases, and stop using so-called human rights as an excuse to interfere in China's internal affairs," she told a daily news briefing.
China and the US routinely clash over human rights, adding to a list of issues on which they do not see eye to eye, including trade, the value of China's currency and China's various maritime territorial disputes.
Washington regularly expresses concern about individual Chinese human rights cases and its diplomats often show up outside court houses where trials are taking place, though they are generally not allowed in.