Free Tibet calls for suspension of rights dialogue

12th January 2011

Free Tibet is calling for the suspension of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue which took place in London between 13 and 15 January. The dialogue – now in its fourteenth year - has failed to deliver tangible improvements in human rights for people in Tibet and China.

It is time for the British government to take a much stronger and more consistent stance on human rights abuses in Tibet and China.

Suspension of the Dialogue until China demonstrates that it takes the process seriously would send a strong message to the Chinese regime that Britain means business when it comes to human rights.

The Dialogue has become a box-ticking exercise aimed at deflecting criticism of the government's silence on human rights. The simple fact that a dialogue takes place is cited by the government as the indicator of success, as opposed to actual outcomes. David Cameron used the existence of the Dialogue to excuse his silence on human rights when he was in China two months ago; no doubt its existence will be paraded again in response to any criticism on the lack of public expressions of concern by the UK government over China’s human rights record during the recent Chinese super-trade mission to the UK.

The UK government lacks the means of assessing whether any progress has actually been made in its dialogue process with China because unlike other UK bi- or multi-lateral human rights processes, the Dialogue does not have any measurable benchmarks or timeframes to monitor progress. While the trade negotiations have been conducted by senior politicians on both sides human rights have been sidelined to a low-profile, fundamentally flawed process. This betrays both the British public and the people who are repressed by the Chinese regime.