Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 30th March 2010.

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Photo of Harry Cohen Harry Cohen Labour, Leyton and Wanstead

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he raised the issue of Tibet during his recent visit to China. [This section has been corrected on 25 May 2010, column 1MC — read correction]

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Europe)

During my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's visit to China he raised the issue of Tibet with Premier Wen and Foreign Minister Yang. He expressed our continued concern at the situation in Tibet, including the heavy security presence, and restrictions on freedom of expression and religion. He welcomed the resumption of the talks between the Chinese authorities and representatives of the Dalai Lama but emphasised that the talks must be substantive to be successful.

Following this visit, the UK and China held a human rights dialogue on 18 March 2010. At this we pressed for access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region for diplomats and journalists and expressed concern over the numbers in detention following the March 2008 unrest, and related death sentences. We also expressed concern over cultural rights and religious freedom in Tibet. In advance of the dialogue we handed over a list of individual cases of concern, which included 17 Tibetan cases. We have yet to receive a response on any of the cases.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has just published its annual report on human rights. China was once again listed as a country of concern. A copy can be found on the FCO website. In it I have made clear that promotion of human rights is a fundamental part of our relationship with China. Significant progress has been made in economic and social rights, with 500 million raised out of poverty in just 30 years. But progress in civil and political rights has been much slower. It is in our interests to help China move towards greater respect for human rights, transparency and accountability.

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