Belfast Telegraph

Arlene Foster urged to raise China's human rights record during trade mission

First Minister Arlene Foster
First Minister Arlene Foster

By Joanne Fleming

Arlene Foster has begun a four-day visit to China to help promote business links with Northern Ireland.

During the trip the First Minister will meet Chinese vice-premier Madame Liu Yandong in Shanghai.

Mrs Foster said she would use the trade mission to promote economic, education and cultural opportunities for the province.

"The links between Northern Ireland and the People's Republic of China are strong and growing," she said.

"This week's visit underlines the continued commitment of the Northern Ireland Executive to engage with China, the world's second largest economy.

"We may be a small country, but we have a compelling proposition in terms of commerce, tourism, education and cultural opportunities.

"Over the course of the next four days I have a packed programme, including engagements in Shanghai, Shenyang and Beijing.

"The discussions I have this week will build on the work the Executive Bureau in Beijing has been leading on and take this mutually beneficial relationship to the next level."

On Friday it emerged that Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness would not be travelling due to "unforeseen personal circumstances".

Amnesty International has called on Mrs Foster to raise concerns about human rights abuses in China.

Patrick Corrigan said Amnesty had concerns about severe restrictions on freedom of expression, the country's widespread jailing of lawyers and its extensive use of the death penalty.

"This is an opportunity for the First Minister to raise the importance of human rights as a vital part of a fair society and a cornerstone of good international relations," he added.

Belfast Telegraph


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