Britain attacks conviction of Chinese lawyer Pu Zhiqiang
Britain today said it was "seriously concerned" by the conviction of a prominent Chinese lawyer over online comments critical of the ruling Communist Party.
A Beijing court found Pu Zhiqiang guilty of provoking troubles and inciting ethnic hatred, and sentenced him to three years in prison, but the sentence will be suspended for three years.
Still, the guilty verdict disqualifies Pu from practising law, and he must comply with certain restrictions and not commit crimes during the three-year period or risk being jailed.
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: "We are seriously concerned by Pu Zhiqiang's conviction despite the suspension of his sentence.
"This case has again raised issues about due process and transparency of justice in China. It has also highlighted the situation faced by human rights lawyers in the country.
"We urge China to make sure freedom of expression and other civil and political rights are protected, in line with their constitution and international human rights commitments."
Human rights group Amnesty International has also condemned the guilty finding, while welcoming suspension of the sentence.
William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International, said: "He is no criminal and this guilty verdict effectively shackles one of China's bravest champions of human rights from practising law."
The lawyer's supporters believe the case was politically driven to punish him for his activity in defending free speech.
Britain's latest concern over China's record on human rights comes at a time of growing economic links between the two countries.