Mainland dissidents have remained in prison because foreign governments have not exerted enough pressure on Beijing to release them, a spokeswoman for a New York-based rights group said yesterday. Beijing has seen through Western governments' fear of jeopardising their economic relations with China, as well as their lack of consistency over human rights issues, Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, told a press conference in Hong Kong. 'The Chinese government got very good, very quickly at figuring out how to ignore or resist ... international intervention on human rights,' she said in an interview afterwards. 'I think the logical response for governments that claim to be genuinely serious about this is to be more co-ordinated, more creative and not to abandon the fight.' She cited the case of artist Ai Weiwei, whose detention on April 3 drew widespread condemnation. That outcry contributed to his release on bail in June, she said. But many activists remained illegally incarcerated by the authorities, such as rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng and legal activist Chen Guangcheng, because leaders from the United States or the European Union have not mounted enough pressure on China by speaking publicly about their cases. Gao has not been seen for more than a year, while Chen is confined at home after his release from jail last year. 'If [Chen's] treatment became an absolutely inescapable topic of conversations at the meetings at the East Asia Summit and the next three or four high-profile diplomatic visits, I think you would see a different result,' Richardson said. 'Had governments been more vocal and co-ordinated about Liu Xiaobo before he was formally charged, we could have wound up at a very different place,' she said of the jailed Nobel peace laureate.