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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Wen Jiabao secures UK trade without official tirade

July 1, 2011

Report from Tibet Society on Wen Jiabao’s visit to the UK. Report and photos can be viewed at 
[28 June 2011] Disappointingly, the British government failed to take the opportunity of Wen Jiabao’s visit to deliver a strong message that China’s policies in Tibet and the ongoing abuses of human rights are not acceptable. Though Britain signed trade deals worth £1.4 billion Prime Minister Cameron only managed a weak public statement that human rights are "the best guarantor" for a stable and prosperous society.
Instead, it was Tibetans and Tibet supporters that ensured Wen Jiabao left Britain knowing that the people, if not the government, are still demanding immediate freedoms and human rights for Tibet and the whole of China.
In a press release, Philippa Carrick, CEO of Tibet Society, said, “Where is the proof that [the UK’s] trade deals with China will bring a betterment of human and civil rights? Signing trade deals alone does not “bring light” to those living in the dark. Unless there have been guarantees of civil and human rights built into these economic agreements, it would seem Britain has sold out its human rights values in the short term interest of trade with China.”
Throughout his three-day visit to the UK, Wen Jiabao was confronted by protests. In Birmingham, Wen encountered a small but vociferous group at the entrance to the Chinese-owned MG Rover factory. On his arrival in London on Sunday, Wen was greeted by a group of 30 protestors, who had gathered at the hotel where he was staying.
On Monday, about 100 protestors assembled opposite Downing Street for Wen’s meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron. Tibetans and Tibet supporters were also joined by Chinese democracy activists, Uighurs and Burmese as well as Falun Gong practitioners. The protestors waved placards with messages including “Human rights before trade”, “Stop the crackdown at Kirti monastery”, “Wen: Tibet will be free” and “Release all prisoners of conscience”. Along with the ever-popular “Free Tibet, China Out” and “Shame on Wen Jiabao” slogans, the crowd made their feelings clear by chanting “Human rights, not for sale”.
Following his Downing Street meeting, Wen Jiabao was whisked to The Royal Society to give a speech to invited dignitaries and business leaders. Over 60 protestors were on hand to ‘welcome’ him. With a narrow street and a single entrance the protestors were hoping to glimpse the Chinese leader. To everyone’s surprise, they had more than a glimpse as Wen exited his car on the ‘wrong’ side - the side of the protest! He stood looking at the demonstration for about half a minute before his minders realised the error and escorted him into the building. His exit from the Royal Society was much quicker, with Wen being virtually bundled into his waiting car and quickly driven off. However, the protest had not quite finished as protestors continued their chanting for the benefit of those leaving the lecture. Leaflets were also handed out, hopefully giving the businessmen and dignitaries pause for thought.
Tibet Society will continue to lobby the British government for stronger statements and practical actions to support Tibetan freedom and to defend the human rights of all those living under the Chinese regime. Tibet Society calls upon the British government should:
- make strong statements supporting those calling for end to the oppression in Tibet and for human rights defenders across China;
- ensure its dealings with the Chinese government are open and transparent. Dialogues should not be held behind closed doors and must have benchmarks and viable outcomes;
- fulfill its promise of putting human rights at the centre of its foreign policy by including measures in trade deals with China that will help develop civil society, benefit local communities and guarantee human rights including the freedom of expression.
The London protests were organised by a coalition of Tibet groups, including Tibet Society, Students for a Free Tibet, Tibetan Youth UK, Free Tibet and Tibetan Community in Britain.
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