Dr. Stephen Ladyman: What recent representations has he (Dr. Denis MacShane) made to the Government of the People's Republic of China with respect to the practitioners of Falun Gong; and if he will make a statement.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Dr. Denis MacShane): We regularly raise our concerns about Falun Gong with the Chinese, both in bilateral meetings and at the UK-China human rights dialogue. Last Monday, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary did so in his meeting in Beijing with the Chinese Foreign Minister, Mr. Tang.
Dr. Ladyman: My hon. Friend's concern for the practitioners of Falun Gong is welcome. Does he agree that what is happening to Falun Gong and other religious minorities in China is extremely worrying, but that the forthcoming Olympic games provide a real opportunity for the entire international community to put pressure on the People's Republic of China to improve its human rights record and to free practitioners of Falun Gong?
Dr. MacShane: My hon. Friend is right; I welcome his commitment to, and involvement in, this issue. Many of his arguments were raised in an excellent debate last week in Westminster Hall on the persecution of Christians in Asia. The Olympic games are an enormous opportunity for all of us to engage in every sense with China on political democracy, human rights and economic opening. The two previous Olympic games that took place in AsiaJapan in 1964 and South Korea in 1988helped to accelerate the process of modernisation and reform and the transition from a more authoritarian form of society in those countries. I hope that the 2008 Olympic games will do the same for China.
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