Memorandum submitted by the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office responding to the Committee's follow-up questions
to its Report on China
We were grateful for the formal notice that
the Committee intends to monitor progress in human rights in China
when it next examines the Annual Report on Human Rights. We welcome
the Committee's continued interest in this issue.
Our responses to the various questions raised
by the Committee are as follows:
With reference to recommendation 17, on the joint
working group on ratification of core UN convention, the Committee
wishes to know what pressures the FCO has exerted upon the Chinese
to publish their forward work programme, and what response the
Chinese have given?
We discussed the structure and dates for the
first meeting of the Working Group on the ratification of the
two International Human Rights Covenants, during the last round
of the UK/China human rights dialogue held in Beijing on 12-14
February. We expect the first meeting to take place in May and
to discuss workers' rights and reporting requirements under the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The first meeting will also seek to identify issues for future
With reference to recommendation 18, on Chinese
ratification of core conventions, the Committee wishes to know
what was the outcome of the most recent EU/China expert seminar:
and whether HMG expects the NPC will have completed ratification
of the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights by March 2001?
The most recent EU/China expert seminar was
held in Paris between 18 and 19 December 2000. Its focus was on
administrative detention and trade union rights. The International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was not therefore
the main topic. The Chinese side claimed that the legal provisions
on trade unions in China were consistent with ILO Convention 87.
The National People's Congress Standing Committee
approved ratification of the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights on 28 February. It will be submitted
to President Jiang Zemin for signature in the near future. At
the same time, the National People's Congress Standing Committee
made a declaration on Article 8.1a (which protects the right of
individuals to join and form trade unions of their choice) saying
that the Article would be implemented in line with the relevant
provisions of China's Constitution, Trade Union Law and Labour
With reference to recommendation 19, on the ratification
of ILO Conventions, the Committee wishes to know what was the
outcome of discussion of this in the EU/China human rights dialogue
held on 22/23 February?
The EU Presidency and Troika partners discussed
the ILO Conventions, as well as UN human rights treaties, with
the Chinese side during the EU/China Human Rights dialogue. They
drew attention to provisions on the freedom of association, and
its contrast with the lack of toleration of free trade unions
With reference to recommendation 20, on EU policy
co-ordination, the Committee wishes to receive a progress report
on the EU's consideration of a line to take at Geneva and an assessment
of the prospects for agreement between the EU and US on this issue.
The US Administration announced on 26 February
that it would table a resolution critical of China at the forthcoming
session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva between
19 March and 27 April. We are working with our EU partners to
agree a common position towards China at the UN Commission on
Human Rights. We expect that one will be adopted at the General
Affairs Council on 19 March, and will inform the Committee of
With reference to recommendation 25, on the Panchen
Lama, the Committee wishes to receive a general report on the
outcome of the UK/China human rights dialogue held on 12-14 February.
In particular will the FCO renew pressure on the Chinese to release
photographs and will it take up this matter in the context of
the EU/China dialogue?
The sixth round of the UK/China Human Rights
dialogue was held in China between 12-14 February. This comprised
two days of talks in Beijing and a one-day visit to Wenzhou in
The formal talks were held in Beijing with representatives
of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Supreme People's Procuratorate,
the National People's Congress Legislative Affairs Commission,
the United Front Work Department, the Supreme People's Court,
the Prisons Administration Bureau and the State Religious Affairs
Bureau. The agenda covered China's co-operation with international
human rights mechanisms; ratification of the two human rights
Covenants; Tibet, Xinjiang; Falun Gong; rule of law issues; the
use of the death penalty; and freedoms of religion, expression
and association. The UK delegation had meetings with the Ministry
of Civil Affairs to discuss the Village Democracy programme, and
with the All China Federation of Trade Unions.
The Chinese demonstrated a willingness to engage
in open and constructive discussion on all issues. There were
encouraging signals of greater Chinese co-operation with international
human rights mechanisms, including:
advance notice that the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights would be adopted
by the National People's Congress (this subsequently occurred
on 28 February) and confirmation that an initial report to the
International Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
was already being prepared;
agreement to hold an early meeting
of the bilateral working group on the ratification of the UN Covenants;
indications that a further meeting
would be sought with Sir Nigel Rodley, UN Special Rapporteur on
Torture, to discuss the terms for a visit to China;
an open invitation to other special
rapporteurs to visit China;
plans to hold talks in early March
with the International Committee of the Red Cross on a possible
prison visiting programme;
the holding of the first seminar
(on minor crimes) under the MOU signed with the UN High Commission
for Human Rights on 20 November 2000.
The Chinese side also demonstrated a willingness
to seek UK expertise and assistance in a number of important areas.
They recognised that the system of administrative detention was
not compatible with the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights which they signed in 1998. We are seeking to identify ways
to assist in reforming the system, building on the seminar attended
in February by Mary Robinson. We also agreed to identify areas
where further engagement, including a second visit by representatives
of the Foreign Secretary's Death Penalty Panel, could move China
towards abolition of capital punishment.
As in previous rounds, the UK Delegation raised
individual cases of concern. 28 cases were raised: Chadrel Rinpoche,
Chen Gang, Gao Xiaoliang, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, Kang Yuchun, Liu
Jingsheng, Ngawang Choephel; Ngawang Sangdrol; Abidjan Obulkasim;
Zha Jianguo, Gao Hongming, Xu Wenli, Wang Youcai, Qin Yongmin,
Li Dexian, Jiang Qisheng, Rebiya Kadeer, Waang Ce, Li Chang, Wang
Zhiwen, Jelil Turdi, Zhang Shanguang, Jiang Shurang, Bishop James
Su Zhimin, Huang Qi, Zhao Ming, Wenliang Liang and Abdulhelil
During the visit to Wenzhou, the UK delegation
was able to examine and discuss with the Wenzhou authorities the
background to international media reports of destruction of churches
and temples as part of an urban redevelopment programme.
The case of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Dalai
Lama's choice as Panchen Lama, was again raised in some depth
during the recent round of the UK/China human rights dialogue.
We pressed them to release photographs of the boy to help assure
the international community that he was alive and well. We also
pressed them to allow access to him by an independent figure or
organisation such as the office of the UN Commission on Human
Rights or the ICRC to verify his health and living conditions.
In response the Chinese side said the boy's parents would not
allow the photographs to be released but they would ask them if
they would allow a visit as suggested by the UK side, but cautioned
that they expected them to decline.
We will continue to seek the inclusion of the
case of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima in future rounds of the EU/China
human rights dialogue, including access and the release of photographs.
With reference to recommendation 30, on commercial
considerations, what would be HMG's position if China retaliated
against UK interests in a way which was incompatible with WTO
rules after it has joined WTO?
WTO membership involves obligations as well
as rights. Once China is a member of the WTO, she will be bound
by the terms of her accession and WTO rules. The WTO agreements
include a dispute settlement procedure to resolve disputes between
members on the application of WTO agreements. If the UK's interests
were being harmed in contravention of WTO rules, HMG, in consultation
with the European Commission, would consider what action to take
in the light of all the facts of the case.
With reference to recommendation 33, on the post
in Chongqing, your response suggests that a cost benefit analysis
at this stage would be premature. Will you review this not later
than 12 months from now?
The FCO in conjunction with Trade Partners UK
will review in 12 months whether a cost benefit analysis of the
office in Chongqing should be undertaken. We will advise the Committee
on the outcome of the review.
With reference to recommendation 35, on a long-term
trade and investment strategy, may the Committee receive a report
on the outcome of the review carried out by Trade Partners UK
in November/December 2000?
The trade and investment strategy for China
developed by Trade Partners UK recognised that official support
for business in the UK and China needed to be organised in a more
focused and targeted way if it was to provide maximum added value
on behalf of British companies' efforts in China. In particular
it was essential to remove overlap in the activities of the bodies
involved. In November/December 2000 the International Management
Directorate of Trade Partners UK carried out a review of commercial
work in China.
The terms of reference for this review were:
Review the responsibilities, organisation,
direction, management and establishment of the trade promotion
work of the diplomatic posts in Peking, Shanghai, Guangzhou and
In the light of the recommendations
of the "China Trade and Investment Promotion Strategy"
on the working relationship with the China-Britain Business Council
(CBBC), review the implications for the organisation and management
of commercial sections.
Judge whether staffing levels reflected
both current and possible future activity, and recommend any changes
necessary to enable objectives to be met in an efficient manner.
The review made a number of recommendations,
primarily on the organisation and management of China trade promotion
work. These addressed in particular the removal of overlap between
the work done by Trade Partners UK in the UK and by the Embassy
and Consulates General in China and by the CBBC in the UK and
through its office network in China. The review also made comments
or recommendations on the direction of that work and the staffing
implications. These included:
The need for a higher degree of priority sector
focus and for the Shanghai and Guangzhou Consulates General to
lead on some sectors. The sectors should match UK strengths to
Chinese priorities and market opportunities.
The relationship between the official service
and China-Britain Business Council is good, but could be improved
in some areas. Both organisations have their own strengths that
should be used to complement each other, thus providing British
business with the best possible advice and information on the
market. Closer liaison between TPUK and CBBC operations in the
UK including regular liaison/strategy meetings was central to
Officially supported Trade Missions and Fairs
should be closely monitored with a view to better targeting of
available funds. Ineffective organisers should not be funded unless
they improved and demonstrated that they were capable of organising
good events or running good missions to China.
A business mentoring service for outward customers
should be explored.
Commercial publicity within China should be increased.
Opening more Diplomatic Post or CBBC Offices
in China would largely be dictated by the availability of funds
which would have to be considered against worldwide demand and
The position of country manager resident in China
(Chief Representative) had lain vacant since Spring 2000. It was
recommended that it be filled (NB appointment to be made soon).
Suggest the CBBC office in Guangzhou be located
elsewhere to maximise the geographical spread of support available
to British business. (NB this has been accepted by the CBBC and
will be implemented over the next few months)
The CBBC's Launchpad scheme (incubators for companies
new to the market) is extremely valuable; a number of recommendations
for its improvement were made.
The CBBC's relationship with the China Markets
Unit of Trade Partners UK is crucial for the effective functioning
of both organisations and for business receiving properly co-ordinated
advice and assistance. Even closer co-ordination was recommended.
With reference to recommendation 356, on WTO obligations,
what progress has been made on establishing the Transitional Review
The principle of including in the terms of China's
accession to the WTO a Transitional Review Mechanism to monitor
China's implementation of her obligations has been accepted by
all the members of the working party. The terms of the Review
Mechanism will form part of the overall package that will be agreed
by all WTO members.
With reference to recommendation 41, on Mr Wu
Man, what progress has been made with Mr Wu's case?
Wu Man was tried on 23 June and sentenced to
13 years in prison. There have been no further reported developments
regarding his detention. Since Mr Wu is a British National (Overseas)
passport holder and a Chinese national we have no formal locus
to intervene on his behalf. (The same applies to any British dual
national who is detained by the authorities in the country of
his/her second nationality.) Our previous requests to the Chinese
authorities for our consular officials to visit Mr Wu were turned
down on each occasion.
The British Consulate-General in Hong Kong remains
ready to offer whatever informal assistance it can to Mr Wu's
family but to date the Consulate-General has received no further
information or requests for assistance. We will continue to monitor
Mr Wu's case as far as we are able, given the constraints of the
consular conventions and the Exchange of Memoranda attached to
the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong. We will take
whatever action is necessary and possible in the circumstances.
With reference to recommendation 51, on jamming
of the BBC, what has been the Chinese response to Mrs Hewitt's
representations and to any subsequent representations?
Mrs Patricia Hewitt MP raised the blocking of
the BBC website with Minister of Information Industries Mr Wu
Jichuan during her visit to China in January 2001. On 19 January,
Her Majesty's Ambassador in Beijing raised both the blocking of
the website and the jamming of the BBC's Chinese language broadcasts
at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Chinese authorities
denied that there was any official jamming of the BBC World Service
or that there was a policy of blocking the website. The issue
was subsequently taken up by the British delegation to the sixth
round of the UK/China Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing on 12-14
February. The delegation handed over technical data provided by
the BBC which the Chinese side agreed to study.