ANDREWS ON SATURDAY:
This week's visit by the Chinese Premier and his high-powered delegation was an extremely sensitive and intricate affair and possibly one of the most important in our recent history. How best to balance the desire to benefit our own economy through increased trade and economic cooperation with that country, with the loathing many of us feel for the human rights record of that state?
Across the board it is safe to assert that in Ireland we have been most vocal on the subject of China's human rights record. We have made our opposition to human rights abuses in that country known clearly on the international stage. We have serious disagreements with China on the issue of human rights. In our dealings with China however, as with all relationships no matter how micro or macro where such disagreement exists, there is simply no alternative to dialogue. [..]
The Labour leader, or anyone else for that matter, making their reservations on China's human rights record clear in a frank manner will obviously have far more effect, especially as the Chinese already indicated they had no objection to discussing human rights during their visit.
As a result of the dialogue which this week's visit created, Mr Zhu has committed himself to raising with China's judicial authorities the case of Zhao Ming, the Trinity College postgraduate student detained in a labour camp. [..]
The necessity to talk, to make our opposition to human rights abuses clear, is more necessary than ever before. There are very real issues to be dealt with; the repression of the Falun Gong movement, the high levels of executions, the persistent denial of basic human rights.
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