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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"
<-Back to WTN Archives Don't put business before human rights in China: dissident
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World Tibet Network News

Thursday, January 8, 1998

2. Don't put business before human rights in China: dissident

LONDON, Jan 8 (AFP) - China's leading dissident, Wei Jingsheng, called on
Western countries Thursday not to put business interests in the country's
booming economy ahead of promotion of human rights.

Wei, who was released last November after spending 18 years in Chinese
jails for his political activities, said: "What I am worried about is that the
human rights movement will be sacrificed for the businessmen."

"I feel pain that now Western democratic countries are caught by the
Chinese market economy's fishing hook," he said through an interpreter at a
press conference here organised by Amnesty International.

Wei, 47, said western companies, which have flocked to the potentially huge
emerging economy, were "too close to the Chinese dictatorship" and could
dishearten the country's fragile democracy movement.

"If western democratic society is proved to be fake, why would Chinese
people use their blood to struggle for democracy?" he asked.

Wei said the US and European policies of engagement with China could be
dangerous to the democracy movement.

US-Chinese relations have thawed since a visit by President Jiang Zemin to
the United States last October and later this month British Foreign Secretary
Robin Cook will visit China.

"Generally speaking, there is nothing wrong with dialogue, but with a
situation where the human rights situation has not improved, the dialogue
could be seen as an endorsment," Wei said.

Wei, on his first visit to Britain, said he wanted to meet with government
officials, but that no meetings were planned. "I hope to meet them. I know
they are very busy and I will not be in London for long."

His meeting with President Bill Clinton in December angered Beijing, which
has warned the United States against trying to use Wei to campaign for changes
to the communist regime.

Wei said he also hoped to meet at some point with the Dalai Lama, the
exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, where Chinese authorities have carried out
brutal repressions to maintain control.

"I have plans to meet the Dalai Lama and the Dalai Lama also has plans to
meet me."

Wei has spent more than half his adult life in prison, starting with his
arrest in 1979.

He has been in exile since he was unexpectedly released on November 15 1997
on medical grounds, when he still had 13 years to go of a sentence for
"engaging in activities in an attempt to overthrow the government."

According to Amnesty International, more than 2,000 Chinese convicted of
"counter-revolutionary" offences are in prison.

Articles in this Issue:
  1. Hong Kong distributor plans to show Hollywood movies on Tibet
  2. Don't put business before human rights in China: dissident
  3. Epidemics feared after heavy snowfalls in Tibet: Xinhua

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

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