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<-Back to WTN Archives Britain says China welcomes U.N. rights chief
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World Tibet Network News

Monday, January 19, 1998

1. Britain says China welcomes U.N. rights chief

BEIJING, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen told
his British counterpart on Monday that the top United Nations human
rights official was welcome to visit China at any time, a British
Foreign Office spokesman said.

Qian's open-ended invitation to Mary Robinson, the United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights, was made to Robin Cook during a
lengthy meeting in the Chinese capital.

``The Chinese government was ready to welcome a Mary Robinson visit
at any time,'' the spokesman said, reporting on the outcome of the

Robinson took up the U.N. post last September after a seven-year term
as Irish president, a largely ceremonial job, during which she became a
vocal champion for the poor and marginalised.

There was no word on any arrangements for Robinson, a lawyer, to
visit Beijing.

China last year signed the United Nations International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights but has still not signed a twin
covenant governing civil and political rights.

The spokesman said Qian indicated China was seriously looking at the
political charter and how it would fit in with existing Chinese

He said a dialogue meeting between the European Union and China on
human rights would be held next month, the second since an agreement to
resume such sessions was reached in October last year.

Britain holds the six-month rotating presidency of the EU.
The British Labour government has vowed to put human rights at the
heart of its foreign policy, and the spokesman said Cook would present
Chinese authorities with a list of human rights cases on Tuesday.

Cook said he was too busy last week to meet prominent exiled Chinese
dissident Wei Jingsheng in London.

China protested to Britain after Wei, who was freed last November
after spending most of the last two decades in Chinese jails, met a
junior foreign office minister.

Wei then went to France, but not before accusing French President
Jacques Chirac of putting trade ahead of human rights concerns.

Britain says relations are improving with China, which it judges has
largely respected the rights of Hong Kong since resuming control of the
former colony in 1997.

Prime Minister Tony Blair is set to visit Beijing later this year.

But the European Union is concerned about the number of political
prisoners in China's jails.

Western human rights activists accuse China of holding thousands of
political dissidents in penal reform camps and of brutally crushing
opposition to its rule in the Himalayan region of Tibet.

China maintains that by adequately feeding and clothing its 1.2
billion people it is looking after the most fundamental human rights of
its citizens. ^REUTERS@

Articles in this Issue:
  1. Britain says China welcomes U.N. rights chief
  2. Hundreds of Chinese herdsmen missing in snow
  3. Scottish couple rescue Tibetan refugees
  4. Gere amongst "Best People of 1997" (TIME Magazine, December 29th 1998)

Other articles this month - WTN Index - Mail the WTN-Editors

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