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Human Rights: China

Volume 613: debated on Tuesday 12 July 2016

4. What recent discussions he has had with the Chinese Government on the promotion of human rights in that country. (905811)

We regularly raise human rights with the Chinese authorities. I most recently discussed human rights with the Chinese ambassador a fortnight ago, and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the human rights dialogue with State Councillor Yang last week. In addition, my right hon. Friend raised concerns last month with the president of the Supreme People’s Court about the detention of human rights defenders.

Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, we will need to develop a new set of trading relationships with China. What reassurances can the Minister give me that that process will not diminish our ability or our resolve to publicly condemn the Chinese Government for human rights abuses?

The hon. Gentleman will know that we are very keen to get a date for the annual human rights dialogue. That is the right architecture within which to raise individual cases. However, we will continue to raise individual cases of human rights abuse, and if there is no human rights dialogue, we will have to increase that.

22. Can the Minister tell us exactly what action he is taking to question the Chinese Government about their brutal persecution of those who peacefully practise Falun Gong, particularly in relation to the live harvesting of organs? (905829)

We have raised concerns about reports of organ harvesting, as well as about the torture and mistreatment of detainees, during the annual UK human rights dialogue. We will continue to do that at the next round. Equally, we pay close attention to the human rights situation in China and we remain extremely concerned about restrictions placed on freedom of religion or belief of any kind, including Falun Gong practitioners.

I should like to associate myself with the Minister’s remarks about Jo Cox, the MP who tragically lost her life. She was a fellow colleague from the 2015 intake. She was an advocate for refugees and a fierce and passionate champion of the dispossessed. We miss her very much at FCO questions, and her memory inspires us all as parliamentarians to work selflessly for those whose voice is rarely heard.

In relation to the human rights situation in China, Amnesty International has stated that at least 248 human rights lawyers and activists have been targeted by the authorities over the past year. They include the prominent lawyer, Wang Yu. She and 12 others are now under formal arrest on charges of subverting state power. What is the Minister’s assessment of this targeting of human rights activists? Does he agree that, on occasion, the Government’s approach lacks assertiveness in relation to human rights in China?

I should like to associate myself with the hon. Lady’s first remarks, but I dissociate myself from her concluding remark. I believe that, on balance, we have got the situation just about right. We are concerned about the human rights lawyers and we continue to raise the issue. Most recently, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary did so with the president of the Supreme People’s Court of China, Zhou Qiang, on 9 June. He has also raised our concerns with the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, and we will continue so to do.