• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 11:24am

British award for Chen Guangcheng set to worsen UK-China relations

Lawmakers honour exiled blind activist as David Cameron’s government is accused of ‘caving in’ to Beijing’s pressure over economic interests

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 5:47am

Britain's relationship with Beijing was set to chill further last night when the British Parliament gave a human rights award to blind activist Chen Guangcheng.

Chen - who escaped extra-legal house arrest in Shandong last year before seeking refuge at the US embassy in Beijing and finally making it to New York - was handed the Westminster Award for his contribution to "human rights, human life and human dignity".

Today, Chen plans to deliver to Downing Street a list of 44 senior Chinese officials he accuses of human rights abuses against him, his family and fellow activists, or who forced women to have abortions under the one-child policy.

"I will call on British Prime Minister David Cameron to slap these officials with a UK travel ban," he said in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

He added: "David Cameron has to remember the words of [US president Franklin Roosevelt] - that he has nothing to fear but fear itself. He should not be afraid of Beijing and any threats against trade."

Those he alleges are guilty of human rights abuse, and who are on the list he intends to hand to Cameron include former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang , who oversaw China's security forces and law enforcement authorities, Executive Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli , and National People's Congress vice-chairman Li Jianguo , who was formerly the Communist Party chief in Shandong.

The award was presented by MPs and peers from the governing Conservative Party to the self-taught lawyer.

It comes amid diplomatic tensions between London and Beijing since Cameron met the Dalai Lama 12 months ago.

Cameron was forced to abandon a trip to Beijing last month because he was refused top-level meetings with senior officials.

Diplomatic snubs are regularly used by China to protest against countries whose leaders meet the Tibetan spiritual leader.

The British government is worried about the possible impact on Sino-British trade, which it is hoping to boost to help end the country's economic slump.

Cameron and his senior ministers - including foreign secretary William Hague - were last night accused of capitulating to China by refusing to meet Chen.

Chris Whitehouse of the Right To Life Charitable Trust said: "So far all the government ministers invited to meet with Mr Chen have said they are too busy. This points to them caving in and sends out an appalling message to the brutal regime of Chinese government."

Chen said Cameron should refuse to be cowed by a perceived economic threat and instead "represent the values and concerns of the people who voted for him. He should stop the fruitless human rights dialogue with Beijing and keep to the democratic and traditional British values which the world admires."

Chen is also due to meet members of Britain's opposition Labour Party.


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This article is now closed to comments

Hi, the poor speller and willfully ignorant (aka. johnrai7),
IN FACT I do know how people live now in China and how people lived before in China, and the improvement people have enjoyed in the last 3 decades, they have their government to thank for, it is not perfect but by and large it is trying to do the right things for the people, and successfully.
Some 'western democracies' can't even manage a country with a population less than 100 millions (yes, I am looking at you, David Cameron, and yes I am thinking about the London raid a couple of years ago). In a fast changing world where they are diminishing by the day, they have nothing to grasp onto but a bit of 'human right' high ground. Pathetic and desperate really!
Amusing that the Beijing supporters do not work in the evening. Praise be to Mao while we work.
If the UK politicians don't watch it, they'll soon be learning to kowtow. I can see Cameron down on his tumtum.
response to john.lone.75,
Mongolia, and Manchuria is and was respectively the countries occupied China, then, melted into now called China. Tibet and Xinjiang are always, well, on and off, a part of China since 12 century ago. However, China, not like Brittan, do not export criminals to grab the lands, such as Australia and brutally abused Australian minority.
Jennie PC Chiang/江佩珍 05/21/13
jenniepc, why do you dignify rabid China and Chinese haters with a response?
And you base that on what? What the masters in Beijing tell you? Do they pay for your flat or just your computer. Probably is better back in the motherland. What do they pay you to be here? When does your minder come around to make sure you are still focused? Do you think we do not see you all? Please.
response to Mr. or Ms. ejmciii,
Chinese so-called dissidents idea of democracy currently will not work for China due to its unsophisticated legal systems and an uneven distribution of the level of its education. I also realize that some so-called dissidents’ right may be violated. I just wrote an article : Taiwan is heaven on earth, or the earthly hell (台灣是人間天堂, 還是人間的地獄)??? posted in World Journal Blog (在繞著世界跑 Jenne‘s 部落格) or in UND JenniePCChiang Blog, detailed how chaotic society could be if a country without sophisticated legal systems and an uneven distribution of the level of its education, especially a size of China.

Jennie PC Chiang/江佩珍 05/21/13
Col EJMcIII here, Ms. Jenni, they are so lucky to have you to decide what they can hink or not. They need more trained people to ensure they think the right way, the Beijing way. You are so helpful. We need that. So stupid normal people do not contaminate the vote with their uneducated vote. You are a cancer on China.
When you are a boot licker like rocklily, you only need to take what your owners in Beijing say. The masters know and fools in HK who follow the masters in Beijing's orders Did that advance the debate, useless?
Not sure where you're living. In Hong Kong we have very little serious crime but an utterly chaotic traffic/parking situation thanks to lax enforcement.



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