Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Press China on rights, artist urges

China's best-known artist has urged Prime Minister David Cameron to challenge Beijing on human rights issues during his visit to the Far East this week.

Ai Weiwei, who was placed under house arrest amid a row over the demolition of his Shanghai studio, said global leaders have been more reluctant to press the Chinese government on the topic since the world was gripped by the economic crisis.

Writing in the Guardian, the artist - who created the current sunflower seed installation in London's Tate Modern as well as Beijing's Bird's Nest Olympic stadium - said: "Cameron should ask the Chinese government not to make people 'disappear' or to jail them merely because they have different opinions. Cameron should say that the civilised world cannot see China as a civilised country if it doesn't change its own behaviour."

Mr Cameron is due to land in China to head up the largest UK Government and business delegation to visit the Far Eastern giant.

It is believed he plans to raise the case of Nobel peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who is serving an 11-year sentence for co-writing a call for democratic reforms, with Chinese officials.

It is rare for people to disappear in China, but there has been international concern over human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who has not been seen for months.

Business Secretary Vince Mr Cable, already in China, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the UK Government was not going to lecture the Chinese on exchange rates - with some countries feeling the yuan is valued artificially low to boost exports - or human rights.

Mr Cable said: "I certainly haven't come here to lecture them on exchange rate policy. There is a wider issue of which this is a part, which is the big imbalance between some countries and others."

On human rights, he added: "I don't think we will approach it by lecturing them, but they know this is part of the wider political and economic framework in which we operate."


From Belfast Telegraph