Dave speaks out on human rights in China after all

Only 24 hours ago, correspondents in David Cameron’s baggage train were confidently reporting how circumspect he would be this time in raising human rights in China. Well, it seems the Downing St briefers were holding back on the impact of his speech to Beijing students this morning. The quote isn’t great but the context of the whole thing is clear enough.

I understand too that being in government is a huge challenge. I’m finding that running a country of 60 million people. So I can only begin to imagine what it is like leading a country of 1.3 billion.” But he will add: “I am convinced that the best guarantor of prosperity and stability is for economic and political progress to go in step together.”

The BBC’s Nick Robinson adds that Cameron did raise the case of persecuted Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiabo with Premier Wen last night. In full view on the street, Nick himself interviewed dissident Ai Weiwei, currently a Tate Modern exhibitor and designer of Beijing’s “bird’s nest soup” Olympic stadium, who was briefly detained at the weekend.

The Daily Mail reports that the British delegation refused a Chinese request to remove their poppies as they reminded the Chinese of the Opium Wars of the 1830s in which the British used gunboat diplomacy to compel the Chinese to open up to this and other trade. Different wars, different poppies.

As I also recall Dave’s pitch perfect Bloody Sunday speech, if he isn’t careful he’ll be shaping up as something of a statesman if he carries on like this. Obama, take note.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London