China: Labour Programme in Tibet — [Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:26 am on 7th October 2020.

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Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip 10:26 am, 7th October 2020

The hon. Lady is absolutely right, and indeed His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said that he will think about whether or not he wants to be reincarnated. The Chinese Government will have to take that into account. If we are going to talk about religious minorities, a growing number of adherents to the Catholic faith are also concerned about the Vatican’s relationship with China. We must bear that in mind as well.

The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland spoke about the Scottish Government’s previous relationship with China in the context of how other Governments’ relationships have changed. When the current First Minister visited China, she made a point of speaking out on human rights, equality and women’s rights. She made the point that economic growth and equality have to go hand in hand, because there cannot be successful, sustainable economic growth without respect for equality and human rights. That has to be remembered.

In all of this, we have to think about our individual responsibilities as well. The hon. Member for Bristol East and others spoke about bottled water and supply chains. We all have to think about consumer goods that appear to be too good to be true in terms of price and quality. As the hon. Member for Congleton said, whose hands have made that cheap clothing, cheap electronics or cheap hand sanitiser? Who made our cheap facemasks that have suddenly become ubiquitous? The wipes that we have in the room were made in Turkey—I made a point of checking before I spoke—but it is clear that many of our facemasks were made in China.

The hon. Member for Bristol East spoke of one of her constituents. My constituent Yu Yu Williamson died, sadly, during the summer. She moved to the UK from China as a young woman. When she came here, she was able to have access to free media and understand the truth of the regime that she had been brought up in. From that point, she never stopped campaigning for the rights and freedoms of her people, particularly the rights of the Tibetans to self-determination and religious freedom across the country. She also campaigned on concerns about organ harvesting and the oppression of Falun Gong practitioners. She was an ardent lobbyist. It is possible that Members present met here if they were ever outside in Parliament Square, because she was a regular presence at the Falun Gong protests that took place outside. Her campaigning meant that she was never able to return safely to the country of her birth. I pay tribute to her and send my deepest sympathies and condolences to her family and many friends in Scotland and around the world. I commend the beautiful obituary that appeared in The Herald—perhaps I will send it round to the Members who have taken part in the debate.

We owe it to people such as Yu Yu, countless other campaigners around the world, and the millions who are suffering under oppression in China to continue to challenge and question the actions of the Chines regime. I hope that the Minister will rise to that challenge today.