[22 November 2013] In early December, the UK Prime Minister will be making an official State Visit to China. David Cameron is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and other high-level officials. Tibet Society is calling on Cameron to raise Tibet during his meetings and to make a public statement on Tibet and human rights during his time in China. Please take the action below and call on Cameron to 'Stand Up for Tibet'.
UPDATE 26 November: The Chinese Embassy in London have confirmed the dates of David Cameron's visit to China as Monday 2 - Wednesday 4 December 2013.
Take Action I Background information
Write to Prime Minister David Cameron with the following points and asks:
1. Acknowledge the UK's statement made at the United Nations during China's Universal Periodic Review on 22 October. Welcome the UK's expression of concern about the human rights situation in Tibet and referencing the "protection of cultural rights and freedoms".
2. Acknowledge the Prime Minister's strong stance on human rights during the recent Commonwealth Summit including statements calling for an inquiry into the Sri Lankan government's human rights record.
3. Remind the Prime Minister that on 3 September his Foreign Secretary said in Parliament, "We should always be clear in the United Kingdom about our belief in universal human rights and never be afraid to give our advocacy for those rights. That includes relations with China."
4. Call on the Prime Minister to undertake the following during his trip to China:
a. Raise the issue of Tibet and human rights with Xi Jinping. In particular, urge the Chinese President to end the oppressive policies in Tibet and to respect the human rights of the Tibetan people as guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and China's own constitution.
b. Call on Xi Jinping to enter into an earnest dialogue with representatives of the Tibetan people in order to bring about a peaceful resolution to the issue. This would affirm the UK government's commitment, as regularly stated, to "the resumption of meaningful dialogue to resolve the underlying grievances of Tibetan communities".
c. Make a public statement on Tibet and human rights whilst in China, calling on the Chinese government to adhere to international standards of rule of law and to respect universally-accepted human and civil rights, especially in view of their recent election to the UN Human Rights Council.
d. Call on the Chinese government to commute the death sentence of Dolma Gyab, who was convicted of murdering his wife despite reports that she had self-immolated.
Prime Minister David Cameron
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA
Email: via website https://email.number10.gov.uk
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
If you live outside the UK
Please write to your own Head of State urging your government to stand up for Tibet during any forthcoming high-level official visits.
If you receive a reply
Please send copies of any replies you receive to Tibet Society - email
or post to Tibet Society, Unit 9, 139 Fonthill Road, London N4 3HF - as this helps us to monitor the government's actions.
• PM's State Visit to China
• UK-China relations freeze
• Chancellor signs trade deals with China
• China at the United Nations
• Dolma Gyab sentenced to death
PM's State Visit to China
David Cameron is expected to be making an official State Visit to China between 1 and 4 December. Though the dates have not been confirmed, Downing Street has said the visit will take place in early December. Also, the government's autumn budget statement has been postponed until 5 December in order for Cameron to be in the UK when the statement is given.
On 10 November, the Prime Minister announced he would be leading a major trade delegation to China. "I will take senior British ministers - as well as business leaders from every sector, large and small - to forge a relationship that will benefit both our countries and bring real rewards for our peoples," he said.
The statement made no reference to human rights, instead focused on China-UK trade relations. Cameron said the trip would help British companies access China's "vast and varied markets" and prepare "the way for a new level of Chinese investment in the UK". He added, "This is a relationship that is for the long term, that matters for Britain and China, and which I look forward to continuing to strengthen in the months and years to come."
Cameron's last visit to China, and his first as Prime Minister, took place in November 2010. During the visit he publicly called for political reform, but failed to make any specific reference to Tibet, human rights or political prisoners. Cameron is believed to have privately raised human rights in a meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao (pictured right).
Further reading: BBC I Reuters I Tibet Society (2010)
UK-China relations freeze
The visit comes after a year-long rift between the two countries, which began following a meeting in May 2012 between David Cameron and the Dalai Lama. The Chinese government stated the meeting was “hurtful” to the Chinese people and had "harmed" China-UK relations. China called on the UK government to apologise. No apology was forthcoming and Cameron's planned visit to Beijing in 2012 had to be scrubbed as it was believed Chinese leaders would refuse to meet him.
Further reading: Tibet Society 8 May 2013 I 29 April 2013
Chancellor signs trade deals with China
In October 2013, Chancellor George Osborne and Mayor of London Boris Johnson led a business delegation to China. A series of investments and deals were announced, including a proposed major Chinese stake-holding in Britain's nuclear power industry and an agreement to allow the London stock market to trade in Chinese currency. When asked by journalists in China if human rights were on the agenda, the Chancellor replied, "I'm here to promote the economic development of our two countries."
Further reading: BBC
China at the United Nations
On 22 October, the Chinese government's human rights record was scrutinised at the UN. Specific concerns over Tibet were raised by 12 counties, including the UK, during China's Universal Periodic Review, with many other states expressing concerns about ethnic minorities in China.
The UK delegation stated that it was “concerned about the human rights situation in ethnic minority areas including Xinjiang and Tibet, in particular with respect to the protection of cultural rights and religious freedoms”. The Chinese government dismissed criticisms raised during the review, saying they were attempts to politicise human rights and that “the best persons to know human rights in China are Chinese”.
On 12 November, UN member states voted China onto the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) despite the Chinese government's deplorable human rights record. The UK was also voted onto the Council. Tibet Society have called on the UN and countries on the Council to hold the Chinese government to account to pledges made in its election bid, which include the protection of ethnic minority rights.
Further reading: Tibet Society UPR report I UK statement I UNHRC vote report
Dolma Gyab sentenced to death
On 15 August, a Chinese court sentenced Dolma Gyab (pictured right), 32, to death for the murder of his wife Kunchok Wangmo, who self-immolated on 13 March in Ngaba, Sichuan province. There are numerous concerns over Dolma Gyab's case, including: the possible use of torture to extract a confession; the lack of evidence other than the confession; the probable lack of due process; and, the influence on the verdict by political circumstances.
Following lobbying efforts, on 3 September, Foreign Secretary William Hague stated in Parliament, "We urge the Chinese authorities to commute the sentence and give a reprieve. We firmly believe that all trials should be free and fair and in line with international standards."
Further reading: Tibet Society death sentence report I Hague statement
Tibet Society, the world’s first Tibet support group, was founded in 1959. Funded by its members, it has been working for over 50 years to seek justice for Tibet through parliamentary lobbying, campaigns and actions. Help keep Tibet alive by joining Tibet Society today. (Annual membership £24; Family £36; Life £500)
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