Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming says that Xi Jinping will not shy away from questions on human rights ahead of the Chinese President’s visit to the United Kingdom. However, Liu warned against ‘interference’ in China’s affairs and said that Xi would be offended if he was given a lecture on human rights.

“What we are against is to use human rights to interfere with other countries’ internal affairs and to try to impose your own system on to others,” Liu said at a press conference.

Liu described the trip as a “super country visit,” saying that the two leaders will redefine the positioning of Sino-British relations and that it was the beginning of “golden times.” Liu also said that the UK was quickly becoming “China’s best friend” in the West, i-Cable News reported.

Jeremy Corbyn and Liu Xiaoming. Photo: HKFP.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn has said that the Labour leader will be “using the opportunity” of Xi’s visit to raise the issue of human rights during the state banquet at Buckingham Palace next week, as it was “the right thing to do.” This will be Corbyn’s first appearance at a Buckingham Palace state dinner as leader of opposition.

The human rights question

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne visited China last month, reportedly securing pledges of investment. He had been praised by state media Global Times for his “etiquette” with his treatment of the “human rights issue.”

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (C) speaks during a dialogue of “Driving the Economy through Technology,” in Beijing, September 20, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee.

Osbourne said that he had raised the issue broadly, putting it “in the context of talking about issues like economic development,” BBC reported. He had not, as campaigners hoped, drawn attention to treatment of the Muslim Uighur minority during his visit to the Xinjiang region.

Hillary Clinton. Photo: Wikicommons.

During Xi’s visit to the United States, however, American presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton called Chinese President Xi Jinping “shameless” for hosting a United Nations women’s summit while five female rights activists remain imprisoned at home, drawing criticism from Chinese state media.

A human rights protest.Photo: Wikicommons.

Bleak human rights record

According to the Guardian, Amnesty International is planning to protest in London over China’s human rights record, saying, “The [Chinese] government has ratcheted up censorship of the internet, clamped down on civil society, increased its ideological controls over the media and academia, and launched several large-scale crackdowns on human rights defenders, lawyers, and activists… Most recently at least 245 lawyers and activists have been targeted in an unprecedented nationwide campaign over the last 100 days and at least 30 are ‘missing’ or still in police custody.”

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.