UK Parliament Concerned about Persecution in China Against Falun Gong Practitioners

On Tuesday 18 June 2002, the UK Parliament conducted a 90-minute debate on China following the return from China of its All Party China Group.

Mr. Ben Chapman, chairman of the Group, said during the debate: “Human rights remain a serious concern, and the all-party group never fails to raise the issue on its visits to China and with Chinese visitors to the UK...

“...The continued detention and harassment of democracy activists and religious practitioners run contrary to international human rights norms... Religious beliefs, freedom of association and of expression and the media are routinely restricted. The crackdown on activists in the China Democracy party and the Falun Gong continues, and Falun Gong [practitioners] have been handed harsh sentences...

“...The Chinese have ratified the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, and have signed the covenant on civil and political rights, but not ratified it. We continue to express our hope that they will do so...”

Mr. Nigel Evans MP said “it would be wrong for us to have a debate on China and not mention human rights, and to think that by not mentioning the subject we were doing the Chinese a favour. The fact is that we do them a favour every time that we mention it. It is in the spirit of friendship that we raise those issues.”

Mr. Richard Spring MP stated: “we note the tough action by the Chinese Government against pro-democracy dissidents, especially Falun Gong adherents. No doubt they are seen as something of a challenge to the monopoly of power held in China.”

Brian Cotter MP said that China “should not feel the need to suppress dissent, but should welcome it instead.”

Dr. Denis MacShane, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs stated “The human rights issue remains a pebble in the shoe—or perhaps a thorn in the side—of our relationship. There is no ducking the need to refer to it. We do not seek to preach or impose our norms; all we ask of the Chinese authorities is that they obey their own laws and respect their international obligations under the international covenants that they have signed or ratified.”

Source: Commons Hansard 18 Jun 2002 :

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