Wednesday, 10 November 2010


Well, here's courting unpopularity. David Cameron has done well in China by raising the issue of political development and human rights.

Why is this likely to be unpopular? Because, for anyone under 30 his failure to stand in Tianenmen Square and decry the Chinese government with flags and whistles is a vicious betrayal of all those people in China who suffer from repression, torture and murder at the hands of the state.

If you take a longer view, it is important that a British Prime Minister has said these things in China and that he has made it clear to Chinese students that there are alternatives to one party rule. Those students and their peers in China will change China: it is not for us to do so or to lecture them on precisely how they should. It is good for us to present options and raise issues, even if potentially affects our trading relationship.

China will be a democracy one day and China will be one of the most important - and dangerous - countries in the world, even more so that it is now (not dangerous, you understand - I'm not a 'Reds under the beds' kind of person, I believe in peaceful change). We can't challenge China, we have to engage and our Prime Minister is doing so.

So well done, Dave - and well done the millions of people around the world who protest against human rights abuses in China and the continued occupation of Tibet. Both approaches are valid and both should continue together.

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