Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Kenny defends human rights stance

Enda Kenny defended Xi Jinping's claims that no nation is perfect when it comes to human rights

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has defended his decision not to challenge the Chinese vice-president over specific human rights violations in the communist country.

Future leader of the People's Republic Xi Jinping was in Ireland for three days from the weekend to discuss trade and investment opportunities between both nations.

But the Taoiseach did not raise any specific issues of humanitarian violations, including Beijing's one-child policy and the continued use of capital punishment.

Mr Kenny also defended Mr Xi's claims that no nation is perfect when it comes to human rights and praised progress made in China.

"Mr Xi raised the point that no country has a perfect human rights record. That's understandable," said Mr Kenny.

"And I note the improvement in the economy of China, where 200 million people have been taken out of poverty and the progress that's been made in human rights in general. I support that."

Mr Kenny, who is expected to travel to China on a return trade mission late next month, insisted that both he and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore raised human rights issues with Mr Xi in general terms, but admitted that no specific points were addressed.

A number of high-profile trade contracts were signed during Mr Xi's visit, securing business for Irish companies in China. Mr Kenny said this could lead to the creation of thousands of jobs for the economy.

Dublin-based fruit distributor Keelings and Shannon-based aviation firm AerDragon Aviation Partners were among those to strike a deal with the nation, which is expected to be the world's largest superpower by 2025.

Some 250 Irish business representatives were at the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, where Mr Kenny gave a speech about trade and investment on the final day of Mr Xi's visit.

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