David Cameron raises human rights in China talks

‘David Cameron raises human rights in China talks.’ (Full BBC Article). But what does this mean for those who are directly effected by human rights abuses in China, or who are working tirelessly against those abuses? For us, it is not an easy answer.

It raises the profile of human rights abuses in China, which can be seen as positive, because it again places it in the forefront of people’s minds. But people know that human rights abuses exist in China. It is old news. Telling the Chinese regime that they are committing human rights abuses probably won’t come as a particular surprise to them either, nor to the Chinese people who are facing it. What is lacking is the desire to dig further into it, to engage in the specific problems. Repeatedly we see a similar pattern. Human rights is raised, but not dealt with. ‘Human rights’ is a sweeping statement that a visiting dignitary can get away with saying in a speech when they visit China. What happens when Genocide of Falun Gong is mentioned? A closed door. A counter argument that pursuing the issue could seriously effect their relationship with China.

This delves to the next level of the problem. The relationship that we have with China. This visit by delegates from the UK took place to build trade links, and to further investment opportunities. Money is put first. It can be argued that we must first engage and build trust with China before we can inspire them to change, and there is some truth in that statement. But by building these strong dependencies with China, we also are making it more and more difficult to then engage them on the issues we need to, because they are then given ‘the upper hand’; what our interviewee in the documentary Transmission 6-10, Jonathan Mirsky, describes as the ‘China Magic’.

So what would we then do? Remove our trade relations with China? Isolate them? We are too far down the road to be able to do this, and would it really achieve anything. It would alienate the Chinese people, and have a massive detrimental effect on their economy, and our own. Do we have the right to do that to China? So it’s war then? No.

What question this is actually raising is, “what exactly is ‘China’?” Is China the Chinese Communist Party, or is it the Chinese people who are currently ‘governed’ by them. We would argue the latter. When human rights abuses are raised, the counter argument is inevitably that we are attacking ‘China’, and what right do we have to do so, taking into light that our record is by no means clean. What the people who raise this point have not yet done is to distinguish that the Chinese Communist Party and China are two separate entities. The Chinese people are not being criticised; in fact in many cases they are actively commended, for they are at the heart of those standing against the abuses, bearing the full brunt of torture and oppression in order to stand up for what they believe in. What is being criticised is the Chinese Communist Party. But it is the Chinese Communist Party that we inevitably have to deal with when we go to build relations with China. It is recorded on the website for the Nine Commentaries on the Chinese Communist Party that over 83 Million people have quit the CCP or it’s affiliated organisations. What does this mean? That those inside the Party, and those belonging to the Party, see something that we perhaps do not; that the regime’s power is fragile, and failing. We are not exposed to this truth in our media, nor are the Chinese in their own State controlled media. This is what those who seek to build relations with the Chinese Communist Party fail to see; that they are dealing with an entity that is fading. Not necessarily economically, but structurally and in terms of it’s control over people. But China and the Chinese people are not fading.

So our conclusion is that it does matter that human rights abuses are raised, but what matters more is that they are not just words. These public speeches are spoken to a regime that is not listening and will not change (although individuals within it are listening), to a country who knows they are oppressed, and to a world that knows these issues exist. What truly matters is the work of those who risk their lives inside the Mainland to stand up for that change, and those around the world who tirelessly devote themselves in support. What also matters are those people within the Communist Party who also want change, and want the oppression and abuse to stop. They know full well that this can only happen when the Party fades, and are now making a stand in their own way by quitting. That is what will bring real change.