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.

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  • “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.”

    Oh please, you cannot be serious, Brian. The lad is another useful media featherweight with no guts or ability to lead and carry the Conservative party into majority government, let alone lead anything else. He’ll do as he’s told and just read from the scripts he is given, like all the rest of them who play the democratic politics game.

  • Ulick

    “speaks out on human rights” – where? am I missing something?

    Surely you don’t mean:
    “I am convinced that the best guarantor of prosperity and stability is for economic and political progress to go in step together.”

    If so, that is truly pathetic.

  • HeinzGuderian

    Sounds like common sense to me…………unless,of course,Sluggerites would support firmer action against China ?? Surely not…………:-)

  • Rory Carr

    “…economic and political progress to go in step together,” insists the great British statesman as he drags Britian back into an economic and political mess last witnessed in the 1930’s.

  • Alias

    Someone give this man a Nobel Peace Prize. After all, that other empty suit, Obama, got one for doing even less…

  • David Cameron’s statements regarding the importance of political reform for China should be welcomed. But, as Nick Robinson points out, what the PM failed to mention “is that if he were Chinese and campaigned for these views he could well end up in prison.”

    If international leaders do not speak up publicly regarding human rights issues, then it could give the impression that they are happy to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses when a trade deal is on the table.

    In their dealings with China (and not just China) all responsible political leaders, including those from Northern Ireland, should address the human rights situation in addition to promoting trade.

    Yes, China is an emerging economic giant. On the other hand, Liu Xiaobo, the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, is in prison for peacefully calling for political reform and respect for human rights. It is disappointing that Mr Cameron did not publicly raise concerns over his imprisonment, notwithstanding any private mention he may have made of the case.

  • The Raven

    So, can I just check what some of the detractors want….? Perhaps Dave administering a public beating of Premier Wen, using his shoe…? Just askin’, like…

  • RepublicanStones

    Brian you honestly believe that Cameron’s statement was sufficent?

    I’d suggest that the statement above (pathetic as it was) was said more out of a desire to appear committed (although it suggests anything but) than any real desire to improve China’s human rights record. This trip was about the moola, having to mention human rights was an inconvenience for Bullington boy. I’d say the Tories still have a few Alan Clarks among them !

  • “So I can only begin to imagine what it is like leading a country of 1.3 billion”

    I know, gosh, the horrific atrocities of human rights you would have to commit to govern that number of people. Cor blimey.