China abuses 'must be addressed'
The Government has been urged to deliver a forceful message to Chinese vice-president Xi Jinping about his regime's human rights abuses during a three-day visit to Ireland.
Amnesty International Ireland called on coalition leaders Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore to speak with one voice about China's treatment of activists.
Mr Xi, 58, China's leader-in-waiting, arrives at Shannon Airport on Saturday afternoon after five days in the US and is expected to sign off "door-opening" agreements to boost trade with Ireland.
Amnesty has written to Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore demanding human rights issues are raised, with a warning that China is the world's number one executioner and that its treatment of activists is appalling.
Noeleen Hartigan, programmes director of Amnesty International Ireland, said it is crucial the Government makes clear the concerns of many Irish people about human rights abuses.
She said: "A minimum of 190,000 people are in 'administrative detention', many of them in forced labour camps.
"Human rights activists are targeted for harassment, arrest and some have even disappeared, while the use of torture is endemic.
"It is obviously important that we build and maintain trading relations with a country like China. But even in the midst of a recession we cannot let trade opportunities blind us to our responsibility to support courageous Chinese human rights activists risking their freedom and their lives every single day."
Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore have committed to raising the issue of human rights during talks.
The Taoiseach said the Irish Government hoped Mr Xi, who admitted in Washington that China has "room to improve", would continue to improve the country's record.