Falun Gong Issue Raised Repeatedly at Ministers’ Question Period in UK Parliament

One day after the World Falun Dafa day, many UK MPs raised the question of China’s persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in the Parliament during a session on China on 14 May 2002.

Mr. Alistair Carmichael asked the question “Is the Minister [Foreign Office Minister, Denise MacShane] aware that Amnesty International estimates that some 240 Falun Gong practitioners have died in custody in China since January last year? Is he also aware that, according to a recent report, the Chinese Government have set up a special taskforce, known as the "610 Office", which is tasked with running a systematic and apparently officially sanctioned campaign against Falun Gong practitioners? Will the Government take advantage of increased world attention on China in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic games, in Beijing, to bring increased pressure to bear? Will they also make it clear that they will take a lead by encouraging athletes and sportsmen and women not to attend those games unless the situation improves markedly?

The Foreign Office Minister, Dr Denise MacShane answered “The hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to the brutal treatment inflicted on Falun Gong practitioners, and such issues are raised regularly with Chinese officials.”

Mr. Stephen McCabe (Birmingham, Hall Green): “When the Minister is next able to raise the question of Falun Gong with the Chinese authorities, will he make particular mention of their refusal to renew the passports of Chinese citizens temporarily resident in this country? That is not only a denial of human rights but restricts the ability to travel of, for example, scientists on temporary assignments in such countries.”

Dr MacShane replied “My hon. Friend makes a good point. Like the right to speak and to organise, the right to travel is a fundamental human freedom that should be available to every Chinese citizen, just as we insist that such freedoms be available to every citizen throughout the world.”

Michael Fabricant MP said: “The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Carmichael) is right to raise the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, ... As China has now become a part of the World Trade Organisation, can we bring any pressure to bear through the WTO to ensure that human rights are maintained in China?

Mr. Michael Connarty MP raise the issue of China spreading persecution to Hong Kong. He said “Has he [Foreign Office Minister Dr MacShane] attempted to raise with the Chinese the fear that they are going backwards and that some of the behaviour of which they have been accused on mainland China has now spread to Hong Kong, which was a British protectorate for 100 years? It is not acceptable to this Government or to the rest of the world that the Chinese should deny people in Hong Kong the right to peaceful demonstration as they have previously denied it to their citizens on the mainland. Will my hon. Friend raise that point with the Chinese Government in the near future?

Dr MacShane stated “I met recently with Miss Emily Lau, the Hong Kong legislative council member, to discuss those issues and the British position is clear. The basic law—the joint declaration that protects human and civic rights in Hong Kong—must be respected. I have also appreciated the talks that I have had with human rights non-governmental organisations, activists and campaigners, and journalists, who are able to maintain a level of freedom in Hong Kong as part of China that sends some good signals for the future. Things should be better and we shall keep pressing for them to improve.”

Mr Ian Lucas MP asked “Although trade with China is an important issue, will the Minister continue to impress on the Chinese authorities that China will never be fully accepted into the international community until it fully respects human rights and the UN's role in enforcing them?”

Dr MacShane replied that the Chinese regime should “respect international laws and the conventions that the Chinese Government themselves signed up to. That demand remains on the table, and it will be pressed by Ministers of this Government.”

Source: Commons Hansard 14 May 2002

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