Tuesday, 22 April 2014

China scraps human rights talk with UK

Phayul[Wednesday, April 16, 2014 09:33]
China has cancelled a bilateral human rights dialogue with Britain, accusing the British government of interfering in its internal affairs by using human rights as a pretext.

Chinese and British officials were to meet for a round of Human Rights Dialogue in London on Wednesday.

"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," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

"Britain's path on this issue is not helpful to dialogue and discussion on the subject of human rights, and not good for the stable development of the health of China-U.K. relations," Hua added.

In its annual human rights report, Britain listed China as "a country of concern" saying it had observed increased curbs on freedom of expression, association and assembly in 2013. The report had made references to human rights issues and unrest in Xinjiang and Tibet. 

British Prime Minister David Cameron had cited the resumption of the dialogue this spring as one of the successes of his December visit, which followed a diplomatic standoff between China and UK due to his meeting with the exiled Tibetan leader Dalai Lama in 2012.

"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,” a Foreign Office spokesman told the Guardian

"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].

"We have registered our disappointment with the Chinese government. We believe a human rights Dialogue is essential, and are working on agreeing new dates."

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."

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