Xi Jinping's UK state visit

No lectures for China's Xi Jinping on human rights, but a few subtle reminders

Queen Elizabeth II and Commons Speaker John Bercow both make remarks about China's wider obligations

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 October, 2015, 12:05am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 August, 2016, 10:36am

Although British politicians chose not to publicly lecture President Xi Jinping on human rights issues, there was no shortage of subtle messages from Queen Elizabeth and House of Commons Speaker John Bercow.

While the queen hailed the "visionary concept" of "one country, two systems" that late leader Deng Xiaoping introduced, Bercow praised Parliament's recent guest Aung San Suu Kyi as a "champion of democracy" before inviting Xi to address the House of Commons.

The queen said Deng's idea had opened the way for the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty, although she avoided making any comments about the city's election of a new chief executive in 2017.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Xi's UK state visit

Pro-democracy campaigners have accused British Prime Minister David Cameron of failing to back Hong Kong demonstrators, who argue Beijing's decision that only vetted candidates can run violates the Joint Declaration.

Bercow appeared to make a veiled reference to China's poor human rights record by mentioning Suu Kyi, a Nobel peace prize laureate, which might remind some listeners about jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo , China's own laureate.

"Welcome to the Royal Gallery," he said. "We have had no fewer than four prominent daughters and sons of Asia in our Parliament in the last three years, starting with Aung Sang Suu Kyi of Burma - the Nobel peace prize winner, democracy champion and international symbol of the innate human right of freedom."

Welcome to the Royal Gallery
Speaker John Bercow

China should aspire to be seen as a "moral inspiration" to the world as it takes its place as a superpower, he said. "What China does economically, but also politically, is seen by and relevant to not merely your own citizens, it is seen by and relevant to billions more across the globe."

READ MORE:Queen’s banquet for Xi Jinping: Balmoral venison and James Bond theme song from 'The Spy Who Loved Me'

China's ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming had earlier suggested the president would not respond well if reprimanded on human rights during his visit.

But if Xi was annoyed, it did not show. In an 11-minute speech at Parliament, he said China and Britain were "increasingly interdependent" and becoming "a community of shared interests".

People's Daily said Xi had repeatedly mentioned the notion of a "community of shared interests" recently, but rarely before now had it been used to describe ties between China and Britain.