Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Seventh Report


314. In March 2004 the 10th National People's Congress approved an amendment to the Chinese Constitution which added the statement that: "The State respects and preserves human rights".[483] This constitutional commitment notwithstanding, the international community continues to have serious concerns about human rights abuses in China. The FCO Human Rights Annual Report 2005 listed particular areas as follows:

    extensive use of the death penalty; torture; shortcomings in judicial practices and widespread administrative detention, particularly re-education through labour; harassment of human rights defenders and activists (NGOs, political activists, journalists and lawyers); harassment of religious practitioners and adherents of Falun Gong; the situation in Tibet and Xinjiang; and severe restrictions on basic freedoms of speech and association.[484]

315. This litany of abuses is in marked contrast to the stated policy of the Chinese government, as described by the memorandum we received from the Chinese Embassy, which said that: "The Chinese Government and its people faithfully observe the solemn promises to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights".[485] The memorandum made clear the Chinese view that "China's specific situation" calls for an interpretation of human rights "that is suited for Chinese conditions". [486] This "socialist human rights concept with Chinese characteristics"[487] is evidently rather different from the concept of universal human rights in the West and the Western interpretation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Nonetheless, China has recently been elected a member of the newly-created United Nations Human Rights Council.[488]

316. The fundamental disagreement over the terms of the debate poses particular problems for governments which seek to persuade the Chinese government to take further steps to improve rights within the PRC. However, the Foreign Secretary told us that the UK-China bilateral relationship is now excellent and that "we are seen as people with whom China can work to our mutual benefit".[489] This context offers a fruitful opportunity to maximise the UK's capacity to encourage China to adopt international standards on human rights. In our inquiry we considered particular human rights issues in China, and also the methods used by the UK and EU to address human rights issues with the government of the PRC.

Recent Developments

317. Our witnesses bore testimony to the improvement of human rights in China over the last few decades. Yiyi Lu of Chatham House told us that "on the whole the situation has improved significantly in the last two and half decades".[490] However, others told us that this has not been a smooth upward curve and that, in the past few years, the regime appears to have taken steps backwards. Human Rights Watch characterised the views of Chinese people as follows:

If you ask a Chinese person, "Are things better now than 20 years ago?"—"Yes". "Are things better now than ten years ago?"—"Yes." They would laugh at you if you thought otherwise. "Are they better than five years ago?"—"Yes." "Are they better than two years ago?" Ah, now we have a different question, and in some places we will have different answers.[491]

318. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International both criticised the government of President Hu Jintao for presiding over a deterioration in human rights, expressed particularly in crackdowns on freedom of expression, restriction of the activities of human rights advocates, and misappropriation of land by government. [492] Professor Wall agreed that the "political human rights situation has got much worse" under the current government and attributed the development to a "more authoritarian, more communist-style" ethos of this administration. [493]

319. China has ratified international treaties on Torture, and Discrimination, and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (with a reservation covering the right to organise labour), the Rights of the Child and Racial Discrimination. It has signed, but not ratified, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. China has not signed up to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and has chosen not to sign optional protocols on Torture and Discrimination.[494] The FCO Human Rights Annual Report 2005 states that the first priority of the UK Human Rights Dialogue is to secure China's ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Ministers and officials have pressed China to publish a timetable for ratification, without success. The FCO has also pressed China to lift its reservation on rights to organise labour. The Human Rights Annual Report 2005 states that: "There is no sign when China will do so".[495] We note that, in its response to our predecessor Committee's Report into China in 2000, the Government stated that "we continue to press the Chinese authorities to ratify the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights".[496]

320. Human Rights Watch queried whether China's ratification of the ICCPR would have much effect upon abuses on the ground, stating that "the signing and ratifying of these documents has not noticeably changed Chinese behaviour in many cases". [497] However, the ratification of the Covenant would "give Chinese people more tools to hold the state accountable".[498]

321. We recommend that the Government set out, in its response to this Report, what progress has been made since it gave a pledge to our predecessor Committee, over five years ago, towards ratification by China of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Human Rights Abuses

322. It is not possible for us, in this context, to conduct an exhaustive review of human rights abuses in China. The following paragraphs address a selection of issues but do not pretend to cover the full panoply of concerns.


323. The improvement of human rights depends in part upon the freedom of activists and organisations to champion particular rights issues within the state. However, activists are severely curtailed in China, and we were told in evidence that repression has worsened under President Hu. Human Rights Watch described how Gao Zhisheng, "China's foremost human rights lawyer", after sending an open letter to President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao calling attention to the "barbaric persecution" of Falun Gong members, was instructed in November 2005 to close his law firm and stop practising law for one year, and "has since been subjected to intense surveillance by security personnel and effectively put under house arrest". Moreover, other activists have "recently 'disappeared' or been detained".[499]

324. The FCO Annual Human Rights Report 2005 registered concern at the treatment of activists, but Professor Wall told us that "there has been very little protest from the Europeans on how NGOs have been treated in China and how their operation activities have been increasingly restricted in the last few years".[500]


325. The death penalty in China is applicable to more than 60 different crimes, including many economic and other non-violent crimes.[501] Amnesty told us that Guandong province had recently included "violent bag-snatching" in that list,[502] but that "the average Chinese person believes the death penalty is legitimate and fair".[503] It is difficult to establish the full extent of the use of the death penalty in China. Amnesty International recorded 3,400 executions in China in 2004, but in 2004, a deputy to China's National People's Congress, Chen Zhonglin, suggested that 10,000 death sentences were imposed each year.[504] The Chinese Government has resisted pressure to publish figures, although the FCO judges that "China could show more transparency if it wished".[505]

326. The Chinese Government has recently decided to allow the Supreme Court to review all death penalty cases, which has been welcomed by NGOs. This change may lead to the reduction in the use of the death penalty, as, in 2003 alone, the Court reviewed 300 cases and of those, changed the original sentence or ordered retrials in 118 of the cases.[506] The FCO welcomed this development in the Human Rights Annual Report 2005.[507] On the other hand, Amnesty told us in evidence that the implementation of the change would be slow, and that the effect of the reforms might be to entrench the system further.[508]

327. In 2004-05, through the Global Opportunities Fund, the FCO spent £26,185 in training Chinese defence lawyers taking on capital cases. The budget for 2005-06 was £12,995. During 2004-05 £31,000 was spent on a series of events involving legislative officials, judges and policy-related researchers, advocating the abolition of the death penalty for non-violent crimes.[509]


328. The use of torture in the Chinese judicial system has been judged "widespread" by the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Novak.[510] In 1997 the Chinese Government published the first statistics on torture, comprising "an average of 364 cases per year between 1979 and 1989, upward of 400 cases per year for most years in the 1990s".[511]

329. The central government has taken steps to reduce the use of torture, including, in 2004, issuing regulations prohibiting the use of torture and threats to gain confessions, and instructing procurators that confessions obtained as a result of torture cannot form a basis for the formal approval of arrests and that prosecutors must work to eliminate illegally obtained evidence. Amnesty told us that "the central government would like to see a reduction in torture" but that "the institutional mechanisms are not powerful enough to undercut the phenomenon", in a judicial system in which courts accept evidence based on torture, and confession regarded as key evidence in criminal prosecutions. [512]

330. The FCO stated in the Human Rights Annual Report 2005 that torture remained widespread in China and that, despite reforms, "China could do much more to address this issue by improving transparency and detainees' access to lawyers and establishing a genuinely independent prison inspectorate".[513] In 2004-05, the FCO spent £27,000 on a project designed to prevent the use of torture to obtain confessions.[514]

331. We recommend that the Government encourage the Chinese government to introduce legislation prohibiting courts from accepting evidence procured through torture, and that it offer to advise the Chinese government on UK best practice in eliminating abuse in prisons and police facilities.

332. The Chinese judicial system allows for the detention of individuals without trial, for certain classes of offence, at the discretion of the police. This practice is known as Re-education Through Labour (RTL). A broad range of crimes are subject to this kind of detention, including "endangering national security", "splitting the State or undermining the unity of the country", and "subverting the State power or overthrowing the socialist system".[515] Detainees may be imprisoned in this way for up to four years.[516] The UN Special Rapporteur on torture stated that "some of these measures of re-education through coercion, humiliation and punishment aim at altering the personality of detainees up to the point of even breaking their will", and described the system as "a form of inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, if not mental torture".[517]

333. The FCO Human Rights Annual Report 2005 stated that the Chinese planned to bring forward legislation to include an element of judicial review and a role for defence lawyers into the Re-education Through Labour process, which "would mean, in effect, the abolition of RTL", although by the time of the Report, the promised legislation had not been forthcoming.[518] Human Rights Watch told us that the move towards phasing out RTL had been "stopped in its tracks recently" by dissenting views in central government, and that the reforms "probably will not amount to very much" in any case.[519] In 2005-06, the FCO spent £25,000 on promoting a reduction in police powers of administrative detention and advocating alternative judicial sanctions with legal safeguards.[520]

334. We conclude that Re-education Through Labour is, in many cases, tantamount to torture, and recommend that the Government upgrade the urgency with which it addresses this issue with the Chinese government.


335. During the Cultural Revolution, religious institutions in China suffered prolonged attack. Today, however, religious faiths practised in China include Daoism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity, although the state remains officially atheist.

336. The memorandum we received from the Chinese Embassy assured us that religious freedoms were guaranteed in the People's Republic, stating: "The Chinese Government has always respected and protected people's freedom of religious beliefs".[521] However, the memorandum stated that "while all citizens enjoy the right to the freedom of religious belief they must also carry out obligations prescribed by law" according to rules "to maintain social order, public security, health and morality".[522]

337. According to evidence we received from other sources, the position of religious believers in China is less rosy. Human Rights Watch told us that all religious groups in China must be registered with the state and independent groups are subject to "monitoring, harassment, arrest, and severe ill treatment".[523] Christian Solidarity Worldwide has stated that "this year has seen a notable increase in reports of religious persecution against unregistered Protestant Christians in China" and testified to the "ongoing repression of the underground Catholic Church".[524] The submission we received from the Falun Gong Human Rights Working Group stated that "the persecution [of Falun Gong practitioners] is indeed as severe and extensive as it has ever been".[525] Amnesty told us that: "Because the Communist Party in a sense wants to be the religion […] it therefore feels threatened by any ideological or religious belief system that might put its rule into question".[526]

338. China has introduced new "Regulations on Religious Affairs", which became effective March 1, 2005, but Human Rights Watch has called the new legislation "little more than a continuation of long-established policies that limit religious freedom".[527] The Foreign Office told us that the new regulations "are not, in our view, compatible with the spirit of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights".[528] The Human Rights Annual Report 2005 recorded the raising of issues of religious freedom on several occasions with the Chinese authorities, but bluntly stated that: "There has been no progress".[529]

339. We recommend that the Government consider funding a project through the Global Opportunities Fund to promote religious freedom in China. We further recommend that the Government communicate to the Chinese authorities the positive influence which religious groups can have on social stability, in the interests of encouraging progress to be made on this issue.


340. The restriction of the internet in China has emerged as a key infringement of the right of freedom of expression.[530] Numbers of internet users in China have been estimated at between 110 and 200 million.[531] However, the system for filtering, censoring and controlling the internet has been described as "the most sophisticated effort of its kind in the world".[532] Government regulations prohibit the use of the internet for a variety of activities, which include "harming the honor or the interests of the nation", "disrupting national policies on religion, propagating evil cults and feudal superstitions" and "inciting illegal assemblies, associations, marches, demonstrations, or gatherings that disturb social order".[533]

341. In a new development, and to the dismay of human rights organisations, several Western internet companies have recently adapted their products in order to gain access to the Chinese market, by developing technology which censors their web-browsers in accordance with government diktat. Particular criticism has been aimed at Microsoft, which last year launched a portal in China that blocks use of words such as 'freedom' in the text of weblogs ('blogs')[534]; Yahoo!, for identifying journalist Shi Tao at the request of the Chinese authorities, leading to his arrest and sentencing for posting on the internet an internal Communist Party minute;[535] and Google, for launching a self-censoring version of its website in China.[536] Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft submitted evidence to our inquiry.[537] The argument they put forward, in various ways, was that the choice faced by foreign companies in China was either to comply with domestic legislation, or to leave the country, and that remaining in the country has the beneficial effect of offering Chinese internet users increased access to information and internet services. However, in June, Sergey Brin, one of Google's founders, admitted that Google's actions had compromised its principles.[538]

342. Human Rights Watch raised the possibility of other countries with repressive regimes observing China's successful manipulation of Western companies and following suit, stating that "China is already exporting technology for monitoring the Internet to other repressive governments, Zimbabwe, for example".[539] The companies which submitted evidence to us advised that China was not the only country in which their product was modified according to the requests of government, but did not give specific details of the nature of such regulation.

343. We conclude that the collaboration of Western internet companies in the censorship and policing of the internet for political purposes is morally unacceptable. We further conclude, however, that it is in the interests of Chinese internet users that as much information be available for browsing as possible. We recommend that the Government put pressure on the Chinese government to relax its censorship of the internet and its requirement for foreign companies to restrict the political content of their pages. We further recommend that the Government represent to the Chinese authorities the damage which is done to economic growth by continued restriction of the free flow of information.

UK Approach to Human Rights Violations in China

344. The Government has a clear commitment to the promotion of human rights as a core element of the UK's bilateral relations with China. Over the past five years, both in the Committee's China Report of 2000, and in successive Reports on the FCO Human Rights Annual Reports, we and previous Foreign Affairs Committees have considered the effectiveness of FCO engagement in this area.

345. The FCO explained in their memorandum to the Committee's inquiry that there are three main modes of engagement by which UK Ministers and officials seek to influence Chinese behaviour on human rights: through high-level advocacy, through the Human Rights Dialogue, and through sponsorship of human rights projects.[540] All three of these methods of influence have been criticised by NGOs and others in evidence to us.

346. Approaches to the Chinese on human rights matters are complicated by the Chinese government's suspicion about the motives of other governments. The memorandum we received from the Chinese Embassy stated that: "China is […] firmly opposed to interfering in other countries' internal affairs by taking the human rights issue as an excuse, firmly opposed to the fallacy about human rights transcending over sovereignty, and firmly opposed to pursuing hegemony under the disguise of human rights".[541] Don Starr told us that: "As a result of Britain's 19th century history of aggression against China, Chinese question Britain's right to criticise her human rights record".[542]


347. The first lever available to the Government is high-level advocacy. The FCO told us that frequent use of this approach was used by Ministers. However, NGOs have repeatedly criticised the Government for not saying enough to the Chinese, and not saying it loudly enough. Human Rights Watch told us that "human rights struggles to find its way on to the agenda at the highest level meetings"[543] and criticised the Prime Minister for not making public statements on human rights at the time of President Hu's visit to the UK.[544] Dr Hughes also criticised the reception of the Chinese President in the UK and told us that the magic of the Chinese market has acted to silence government criticisms of human rights: "We are all getting into this very embarrassing situation trying to outdo each other and kowtowing to the Chinese leadership".[545] To put these criticisms into context, Human Rights Watch told us that French and German governments had behaved worse in this respect, and "the US has vacillated".[546]

348. The point has been made to us that overly strident public statements on human rights can be counter-productive. The Chinese Embassy told us in evidence that: "The only correct and effective way to solve the differences [between states on the human rights issue] is through dialogue and cooperation, rather than through confrontation and pressure".[547] Yiyi Lu of Chatham House told us that "merely attacking the Chinese government over its human rights records may not be the best approach to influence the situation on the ground".[548] Human Rights Watch, on the other hand, stated that "China's leaders respond to public diplomacy and take note when it is absent".[549]

349. We recommend that the Government continue to raise human rights at the highest levels with Chinese counterparts, and do not flinch from making public statements where appropriate.


350. The second channel of influence on human rights mentioned by the FCO is the UK Human Rights Dialogue. The UK Human Rights Dialogue is the main vehicle for government to government discussion of human rights with China. It is mirrored by an EU Human Rights Dialogue.[550] We and the previous Foreign Affairs Committee have commented regularly on the Dialogue[551] in the past and have expressed concern about the speed of progress. Criticisms we have received of the dialogue from human rights organisations do not seem to have changed much over the past six years, although Human Rights Watch did say this year that "within the confines of the dialogue [British diplomats] are pushing pretty well".[552] The main criticisms of the dialogue are that it facilitates the exclusion of human rights discussions at other levels and meetings and that it is not transparent, measurable or benchmarked, making it unclear what concrete results the process has achieved.[553] Professor Hughes told us that, having played a part in the dialogue himself, he was "far from impressed by the way it was organised". He explained that: "It was one brief meeting: nothing, no preparations, no follow-up, no briefings, that was it".[554] On the other hand, Don Starr told us that "through on-going human rights dialogues, Britain and the EU have certainly helped improve Chinese human rights practice".[555]

351. The Government has responded to our criticisms in the past by stating that although the dialogue is slow, it is not ineffective.[556] The Foreign Secretary told us during our inquiry that the dialogue "does represent a worthwhile engagement" and that: "We do believe that we see gradual movement and greater recognition of some of the concerns".[557] In its response to our Human Rights Annual Report 2005 Report, the government stated a number of achievements to which the dialogue had contributed, such as China's signature of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1998.[558] The Foreign Secretary told us, in another context, that "it has always been my view that you try to do what is most effective, and if that disappoints people who wish to see you do the thing in a different way but you think you are actually getting a better result, then you should bite the bullet and put up with it".[559]

352. We recommend that the Government, which clearly believes that the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue achieves results, make greater efforts to ensure that this is obvious to others, such as ourselves and NGOs. We further recommend that NGOs be invited to have observer status at the dialogue. We recommend that, in its response to this Report, the Government set out what steps are taken to follow up issues raised in each round of the dialogue. We recommend that the Government publish a summary of objectives before, and outcomes after, each round. We further recommend that the Government seek the agreement of its EU partners to the adoption of these same procedures in relation to the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue discussed in paragraphs 357-359 below. We recommend that the Government set out, in its response to this Report, in what other meetings human rights are raised, at official level, with the Chinese authorities, apart from during the human rights dialogue.


353. In financial year 2006-07, the FCO will spend £307,704 on nine human rights-related projects in China, through the Global Opportunities Fund, spanning a range of issues, from police and prison staff training, to raising awareness of torture, to seeking to influence the Chinese government over the death penalty. The effectiveness of these projects is assessed each year in the report of the Global Opportunities Fund. The latest Report, issued in October 2005, stated that: "All projects are now evaluated against their original proposal and particularly their purpose. In addition, some are targeted for later impact assessment studies".[560]

354. We recommend that the Government conducts a rigorous analysis of the long-term impact of each of its Global Opportunities Fund projects in China, and publish the results.


355. Other approaches to encouraging progress on human rights merit examination. As Dr Cronin told us: "You have to grab what leverage you have sometimes in policy and try to apply it".[561] Dr Hughes told us that: "The EU has more power [to influence human rights] than perhaps it realises, partly because of the way the Chinese perceive the EU as a balance to US power and they are desperate to have EU support on a whole range of issues".[562] Dr Cronin told us that, in his dealings with the Chinese government when working for the US government, "the Chinese wanted to know: how can we get [former US Trade Representative] Robert Zoellick to tick the box saying we are being a co-operative global stakeholder?". [563]

356. This analysis suggests that the Chinese can be incentivised to improve human rights where mere encouragement has failed. Some of our witnesses did sound a note of caution on this approach, however. Yiyi Lu stated that: "Over-politicising the human rights issue and linking it to other issues, such as trade and investment, will only make the Chinese government more wary of engaging in human rights dialogue and cooperation with the West".[564] However, Dr Cronin told us that: "The Chinese say, 'We do not like that linkage [of human rights with other issues].' That is fine, but you have to take what leverage you have."[565] The obvious levers which the UK and EU have in these areas are trade and lifting the EU arms embargo.[566]

EU Human Rights Dialogue

357. The UK human rights dialogue with China is mirrored by an EU dialogue. Once again, the effectiveness of the EU approach was challenged by our witnesses. Dr Hughes told us that: "European foreign policy has tended to overlook many of the value issues or normative issues of human rights".[567] He went on to say that the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue "can hardly be called a success because we have seen no results at all out of it", and that "EU policy has become unashamedly orientated towards economic interests". While "EU strategy documents […] pay lip service to human rights issues", EU officials "are not interested in sensitive issues, they do not want to rock the boat" of economic cooperation.[568]

358. Part of the problem with the EU dialogue is the lack of coordination between the different bilateral dialogues conducted by various EU states, and the EU dialogue. The forum for coordination is known as the Berne group, which meets to address this issue. The Foreign Secretary told us that:

    We and others who are members of the Berne Group have become more actively involved in sharing information, co-ordinating our efforts, precisely so that, first, we have got a better picture of what the problems are and, second, that we think we can have and we do get some indication that we are having greater impact in that respect.[569]

359. We recommend that the Government set out, in its response to this Report, what can be done to improve the transparency of the Berne group process.

Autonomous Regions

360. The system of Chinese government is, as we have discussed, highly decentralised. The system of "autonomy" for particular regions is described by the Chinese Embassy as one of the "important components of China's democratic system".[570] In this section we consider the human rights issues raised by the system as it applies to the ethnic autonomous regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, which present particular human rights issues, and the challenges of the rather different autonomy enjoyed by Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

361. The Chinese Embassy stated in their memorandum that "all ethnic groups [in China] enjoy equal political status, and a new type of socialist ethnic relationship featuring equality, unity, and mutual support has been formed".[571] According to the memorandum, autonomous government ensures representation of the regional ethnic groups in the national and regional government, and Beijing has poured central funding into the regions. The ethnic regions, comprising Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Tibet, Ningxia, Xinjiang, Guizhou, Yunnan and Qinghai, reportedly received 4.84 billion renminbi (US$598 million) in assistance in 2005.[572] The Chinese Government published a white paper in February 2005 entitled Regional Autonomy for Ethnic Minorities in China, which stated that the system of devolved government "is critical to enhancing the relationship of equality, unity and mutual assistance among different ethnic groups, to upholding national unification, and to accelerating the development of places where regional autonomy is practiced and promoting their progress".[573] However, the ethnic regions have also been a source of significant dissent within China, belying the assurance of "a new type of socialist ethnic relationship".


362. During our visit to China, part of the Committee visited Lhasa and Tsedang in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and held meetings with a range of officials from municipal and regional government as well as monks of Sera and Samye monasteries. We were dependent upon our hosts in Beijing for our programme, so were not able to contact dissenting groups on the ground. At least one representative of the NPC in Beijing was present at all of our meetings.

363. The relationship between mainland China and Tibet is a complex one. The main source of contention from which other problems stem is the Chinese insistence that Tibet has always been part of China. The Chinese Embassy told us that: "China's sovereignty to Tibet allows no doubt. The Chinese Central Government has been exercising sovereignty over Tibet since the 13th century […] Tibet has never been an independent country, and there is no country in the world that recognizes Tibet as an independent country".[574]

364. The Chinese government characterises the arrival of People's Liberation Army troops in Lhasa in 1951 as a "peaceful liberation" of Tibetans from a "feudal serfdom system" in which: "The basic rights of subsistence of the majority of the serfs could not be guaranteed, let alone their political rights".[575] This analysis of history is not shared by others, and the Tibetan Government in Exile, headed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959, "has consistently held that Tibet has been under illegal Chinese occupation since China invaded the independent state in 1949-50".[576] The FCO memorandum stated that: "Successive British Governments have regarded Tibet as autonomous whilst recognising the special position of the Chinese authorities there […] HMG does not recognise the so-called 'Tibetan Government in Exile'".[577]

365. In Tibet, traditional religious leaders such as the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama have, in the past, had a role in government. This has led to particular difficulties in encouraging dialogue between religious leaders and the Chinese authorities. Although four rounds of talks have taken place between the Chinese and the Tibetan Government in Exile, the Chinese Embassy described the current Dalai Lama as "not only a religious figure, but a political exile engaged in separatist activities".[578] The Chinese stated that "The door for negotiation is always open". However, the Chinese judgement is that:

    although the Dalai Lama kept changing tactics, his position on Tibetan independence did not budge at all, neither did the nature of his separatist activities. The Dalai clique has never abandoned the separatist activities both at home and abroad, and they do not have any sincerity in engaging and negotiating with the Central Government.[579]

366. The Dalai Lama himself has, in fact, made public statements renouncing his former political role and accepting Chinese rule. In 2005, he said that:

    My involvement in the affairs of Tibet is not for the purpose of claiming certain personal rights or political position for myself nor attempting to stake claims for the Tibetan administration in exile […] when we return to Tibet with a certain degree of freedom I will not hold any office in the Tibetan government or any other political position and […] the present Tibetan administration in exile will be dissolved.[580]

367. In 2006, the Dalai Lama said that: "I have only one demand: self-rule and genuine autonomy for all Tibetans, i.e., the Tibetan nationality in its entirety. This demand is in keeping with the provisions of the Chinese constitution, which means it can be met […] I do not wish to seek Tibet's separation from China".[581]

368. The Office of Tibet in the UK told us in evidence that the talks with the Chinese Government have been unproductive because of the attitude of the Chinese, stating that: "There have been no positive changes inside Tibet since the opening of direct contact with the Chinese leadership and that there are no clear signs that Chinese leadership is genuinely interested in beginning an honest dialogue".[582] The FCO told us that: "We have pressed the Chinese repeatedly to continue these contacts [with the Dalai Lama's representatives] and enter a substantive dialogue without pre-conditions and have made clear our view that negotiations should work towards a long term peaceful solution acceptable to the Tibetan people".[583]

369. We conclude that the Chinese assertion that the Dalai Lama advocates Tibetan independence flies in the face of public statements made by the Dalai Lama. We recommend that the Government continue to press the Chinese to allow the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet in his capacity as spiritual leader.

370. The Panchen Lama is the second highest spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism after the Dalai Lama. When the Fourteenth Dalai Lama left Tibet in 1959, the Panchen Lama remained in Tibet in uneasy compromise with the Chinese authorities, suffering ten years' imprisonment for loyalty to the Dalai Lama. After his death in 1989, a search was made, according to Tibetan belief, for his reincarnation. The Dalai Lama announced in 1995 that the reincarnation had been identified as Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a six year-old boy living in Lhari district in Nagchu, Tibet.[584] However, the Chinese authorities rejected this decision and anointed a different successor, Gyaltsen Norbu, another Tibetan boy; Gedhun Choekyi Nyima has not been seen since. Norbu appeared in April 2005 at the World Buddhism Conference, held in Beijing, and was reported as giving a speech in which he exhorted Tibetans to "defend the nation".[585]

371. The FCO told us that: "We remain concerned about the status of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima" and that at the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue in February 2005, the EU pressed for an independent figure to have access to him.[586] When we visited Tibet, the government authorities assured us that the boy was in good health, and that we should not be concerned about his location.

372. We conclude that Beijing's insistence on controlling the appointment of the next Panchen Lama is a serious abuse of the right of freedom of religion. We recommend that the Government press for the recognition by the Chinese of the right of Tibetan religious leaders to choose the next Panchen Lama according to their religious beliefs and practices.

Economic Development

373. The Chinese government's contention is that its policies towards Tibet have been motivated by the desire to modernise the state and raise the living standards of the people. The Chinese Embassy described the Tibetan society which preceded the incursion of Mao's forces as "even darker and more backward than that in the Middle Ages in Europe", stating that "high-ranking monks and nobles that only account for 5% of the population controlled more than 95% of the serfs and means of production" and that: "The serfs were exploited economically, suppressed politically, and controlled spiritually".[587] By contrast, since the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1965, "earth-shaking changes have taken place in the political, economic and social life of Tibet", triggering a "great leap forward in the development of its system, structure and size of the economy", such that "Tibet's GDP jumped from 327 million yuan RMB in 1965 to 21.15 billion yuan RMB in 2004; per capita GDP in 1965 was only 241 yuan RMB, while in 2004 it reached 7,779 RMB".[588] The Western Development Strategy, launched in 2000, seeks to address disparities between the West of China and the wealthier East, by investing in major infrastructure projects. The opening for trade of the Nathu La pass between Tibet and India in July raises the prospect of further potential development.[589]

374. However, the FCO told us that: "We are concerned that economic development does not take the wishes of the local Tibetan population into account, nor do they benefit proportionately".[590] The Free Tibet Campaign told us that the Western Development Strategy "is amplifying the existing disparities and strengthening the linkage between security issues and economic policy, and the projects contained within the strategy are designed to consolidate China's political control of Tibet".[591] For example, Free Tibet Campaign argued that the new 1,142 km railway linking Lhasa to Qinghai, at a reported cost of $3 billion,[592] "will provide logistical support to the military, enable greater and swifter in-migration of non-Tibetans to the area and facilitate the exploitation of mineral resources contrary to the Tibetans' economic rights". Moreover, Free Tibet Campaign stated that government expenditure has neglected social infrastructure such as primary and secondary education, healthcare facilities, rural secondary roads and irrigation outside the main valley systems, which would make most difference to the people. [593]

375. We conclude that the economic development of Tibet is to be welcomed, if it brings improvements to the living standards of ordinary Tibetans, and if Tibetan people have ownership over the process. We recommend that the Government urge its Chinese counterparts to improve the degree of Tibetan involvement in development decisions and emphasise to the Chinese the beneficial effect of such involvement on social stability.

Freedom of Religion

376. The economic development of Tibet has taken place in the context of a human rights situation about which the FCO told us they are "very concerned". The FCO said in evidence that it was particularly concerned about "the restrictions on religious practice and the on-going political education campaign in monasteries".[594] Amnesty International told the Committee during the inquiry into the Human Rights Annual Report that: "We do not think [the situation in Tibet] is improving. We continue to document abuses taking place in Tibet particularly of monks and nuns and of other religious minorities. So we have nothing to say about improvement in Tibet".[595]

377. Free Tibet Campaign drew our attention to the Patriotic Re-education campaign, re-launched in 2005, which is designed to "instil loyalty to the State and Communist Party as a pre-requisite for being a good monk or nun, […and] attempt to undermine the influence of the Dalai Lama".[596] Free Tibet Campaign told us that "religious institutions are very strictly controlled by management committees, and all Tibetan officials are prohibited from following their traditional Buddhist traditions".[597] Management Committees perform a political as well as religious function in regulating the activities of the monastery.

378. The Members of our Committee who visited Tibet raised the issue of religious freedom at meetings with government officials and with Abbots and Management Committees of several monasteries. Every interlocutor assured us that all Tibetans enjoyed freedom of religion. This was clearly at odds with the evidence we had received, and with discussions which some Members had in the UK with a group of Tibetan nuns who had been imprisoned and tortured while in Tibet.

379. The FCO told us that it has regular contacts with the Chinese on the issue of human rights in Tibet and "raise our concerns with the Chinese authorities at every suitable opportunity".[598] The Human Rights Annual Report 2005 described UK funding for work in Tibet, including provision by DFID of £0.5 million per year for development assistance.[599] The Foreign Secretary told us that that, in addition to project work:

    We are also seeking to use what I think is a degree of goodwill and mutual confidence that we are gradually building up with the Chinese Government to encourage political dialogue and try to encourage from all quarters an approach of trying to identify a greater degree of common ground so that there can be a more peaceful approach and peaceful settlement in the area of Tibet.[600]

380. We conclude that freedom of religious belief and worship in Tibet remains significantly restricted. We recommend that the Government continue to press this issue with its Chinese counterparts, emphasising the beneficial influence which religious freedom can have on social cohesion.

Tibetan Culture and Language

381. In addition to the threats to Tibetan freedom of religion, the FCO described its concern about "the impact of continuing inward migration into the region on traditional Tibetan culture"[601]. The FCO told us that: "The most recent Chinese government statistics gave the population of the TAR [Tibetan Autonomous Region] as 2.76 million in November 2005. Of these, 2.5 million (92%) were ethnic Tibetans, and 180,000 were Han Chinese (6.5%)".[602] However, as 80% of ethnic Tibetans live in rural areas, whereas most Han immigrants live in Lhasa; "The presence of Han Chinese is felt disproportionately in the cities" and: "In urban areas, the number of Han Chinese is almost equal to the number of ethnic Tibetans".[603] The new railway is expected to bring more migrants into Tibet.

382. The effect of this migration, it is argued, has been to dilute Tibetan culture. Human Rights Watch told us that "the Chinese-isation, Hanisation, Sinisation, whatever you want to call it, of Tibet has really taken over". [604] Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch told us that Tibetans regard the new railway as "the end of their culture and the end of their civilization over time […] it has just opened a door that can never be closed".[605]

383. We observed a great deal of construction activity during our visit to Tibet, and were told by government officials in Lhasa that, under planning regulations, new buildings must be in keeping with traditional Tibetan architectural styles. However, the Annual Report 2005 of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy described "extensive demolition of traditional Tibetan buildings and construction of new Chinese apartment blocks" over the last decade,[606]—glaringly evident to us in Lhasa—and Human Rights Watch told us that: "There is an attempt to move people off the land and into apartment buildings and new neighbourhoods that are built mostly in urban areas, sometimes in more rural areas, changing their way of life".[607] The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed concern in 2005 about "the lack of effective consultations and legal redress for persons affected by forced evictions and demolitions, including those of historic structures, buildings and homes in Lhasa".[608]

384. Another criticism of Han migration is the undermining of the Tibetan language, and we heard that command of Mandarin Chinese is critical to succeed in the new Tibetan economy. Human Rights Watch told us that: "For the jobs that pay good money, mostly Chinese language is a barrier";[609] Freedom House stated in 2005 that: "Many Tibetans are torn between a desire to learn Chinese in order to compete for university slots and jobs and the realisation that increased use of Chinese threatens the survival of the Tibetan language and culture".[610] The Tibetan officials we met in Lhasa and Tsedang conducted our meetings almost exclusively in Mandarin Chinese.

385. It is argued that the emasculation of Tibetan language and culture is a deliberate Chinese policy, orchestrated through the education system. The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy stated in its Annual Report of 2005 that since 1949, "China has been conducting an education policy aimed at indoctrinating Tibetan students with communist ideologies and ultimately at totally assimilating Tibetans".[611] The Report states that ideological education has been strengthened during 2005, and that:

    In the aim of making Tibetans Chinese, Tibetan history and culture are not only not taught; they are formally denied and denigrated. Furthermore, in a Chinese dominated economic and social life, the Tibetan language has become useless. Tibetan Children learn Chinese from grade one and must be fluent to enter secondary school and higher education where the medium of instruction is exclusively Chinese.[612]

386. We conclude that the Tibetan people have a right to conduct their economic and social lives in the Tibetan language; that Tibetan culture should be preserved; and that Tibetan secular and religious buildings of architectural, historic and religious significance should be protected. We recommend that the Government urge the government of the People's Republic of China to strengthen the use of Tibetan in the education system in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and other ethnic Tibetan areas.


387. The issues posed by Xinjiang are, in many respects, similar to those relevant to Tibet. Amnesty told us that: "Xinjiang has many of the problems of Tibet. It is in a similar situation but it is in an even more dire situation because it has very little international recognition.[613] However, the region is also a strategic concern for the central government given its geographical position in Central Asia. Moreover, the region is the only provincial region in which Han Chinese do not have demographic dominance, making up 41% of the population compared to 45% Uighur.[614] State-sponsored Han migration into Xinjiang has been significant.[615]

388. Again, sovereignty is disputed. The Chinese Embassy stated in evidence that Xinjiang "has been an inalienable part of the multi-ethnic China since the Western Han Dynasty (BC 206-B.C.24)" and that "Xinjiang was liberated through peaceful means" in 1949.[616] However, the Uighur population has a long history of independence from China and strong linguistic and historical ties with the neighbouring states of Central Asia. The Chinese Embassy memorandum stated that, since the launch of the Western Development Strategy, Xinjiang has benefited from economic growth and that: "By 2010, Xinjiang's GDP will double that of 2000 and the general public will lead a better life":

    In 2004, the GDP of the entire region reached 220 billion RMB, up 11.1% over the previous year. The per capita GDP reached 11,199 yuan, an increase of 9.5%. The economic structure has been adjusted and optimized. The overall production capacity of agriculture has been strengthened notably and its rural economy has gained comprehensive development. The industrial strength has been greatly increased and the technological standard notably lifted. Infrastructure has been improved remarkably. Communications and transportation have made great progress. Tourism has become a new growth point for economic development in Xinjiang […] By 2004, Xinjiang had established economic and trade cooperation with 132 countries and regions. Its border trade grows very fast.[617]

389. The Chinese Embassy also stated that traditional ways of life have been protected, threats to the environment have been warded off, and religious freedom guaranteed.[618] However, Human Rights Watch described, in a report in 2005, "a multi-tiered system of surveillance, control, and suppression of religious activity aimed at Xinjiang's Uighurs".[619] According to the report, routine harassment and religious controls affect most people, and "peaceful activists who practice their religion in a manner deemed unacceptable by state authorities or Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials are arrested, tortured, and at times executed".[620]

390. China justifies its treatment of Uighurs as a necessary response to separatist activity. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement, an extreme Uighur movement, seeks an independent state of 'East Turkestan', and China attributes to the group responsibility for 200 terrorist attacks between 1990 and 2001, including bombings and assassinations.[621] China has sought to deal with this activity by linking it to the global war on terror, and by securing an agreement through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation[622] to tackle regional terrorism in concert with neighbouring powers. The Chinese attitude towards separatists in Xinjiang has been heavily criticised. Amnesty told us in evidence that the linkage with the global war on terror is a spurious attempt to justify "serious human rights violations against the ethnic Uighur community such as the harassment and arbitrary detention of Uighur peaceful protesters and dissenters, often described as 'religious extremists' or 'terrorists'".[623] The FCO also told us that they had concerns about human rights violations in Xinjiang. The Human Rights Annual Report 2005 states that the Chinese authorities fails to distinguish between "people who express peaceful political views and those who advocate violence".[624]

391. We conclude that repressive Chinese policies in Xinjiang are reprehensible. We recommend that the Government continue to monitor developments in Xinjiang closely.


392. Since Hong Kong returned to China in 1997, the UK has retained a strong interest in developments in the Special Administrative Region (SAR), and significant business and people to people links. The Government reports biannually to Parliament on developments in Hong Kong. We visited Hong Kong during our visit to China and held meetings with government, legislative, business, human rights and other interlocutors.

Constitutional Developments

393. Hong Kong's system of government and procedures for choosing its Chief Executive and Legislative Council (LegCo) were set out in the Basic Law, which became operational in 1997. The Basic Law, which was drafted by a Committee of Chinese and Hong Kong members, between 1985 and 1989, was adopted on 4 April 1990 by the Seventh National People's Congress. The basis for the Law was the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong, which was signed by the Chinese and British Governments on 19 December 1984.

394. Hong Kong's current Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, was appointed by a "broadly representative" Election Committee made up of 800 Hong Kong residents, "drawn from all walks of life".[625] The current Legislative Council comprises Members elected by different means: 50% of seats are elected directly according to geographical constituencies; and 50% by "functional" constituencies representing professional groups and business sectors.[626] Functional constituencies comprise the following sectors: commercial, industrial, finance, accountancy, medical, legal, real estate and construction, architecture, surveying and planning, financial services, textiles and garment, import and export, wholesale and retail, insurance, rural landowning interests, tourism, transport, catering and information technology.

395. The Basic Law also institutionalised a presumption of gradual progression towards election by universal suffrage. [627] The Chinese Embassy stated in evidence to us that: "The Central Government highly values and actively supports Hong Kong SAR to act in accordance with the stipulations of the Basic Law to develop [a] democratic system that suits the actual situation of Hong Kong in a gradual manner".[628] The memorandum describes developments since 1997 in the selection of the Chief Executive and composition of LegCo as steps towards universal suffrage. [629]

396. In December 2005, the current Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, brought before LegCo further proposed changes to the electoral system. The package of proposals had been drawn up by a Constitutional Development Task Force, created in 2004. In April 2004, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in Beijing restricted the Task Force's ambit by denying the possibility of election of the Chief Executive in 2007 by universal suffrage, and by stating that the 50:50 ratio of functional constituencies and geographical constituencies in LegCo should be retained for the 2008 elections, leading to accusations of undue interference. [630]

397. The final proposals of December 2005 included expanding LegCo by another ten seats, five of which would be elected by geographical constituencies and five by District Councillors (of whom 427 are directly elected and 102 appointed). In addition, procedures for electing the Chief Executive were also to be changed. The Election Committee was to double in size to 1600 members. The political sector of the Committee would be expanded by the inclusion of all District Councillors, and the commercial, social and professional sectors of the Committee would also each gain an additional 100 members. Candidates running for Chief Executive would have to gain 200 nominations (rather than the current 100 required nominations) in order to stand. [631]

398. Presenting the package, Donald Tsang stated that: "While some consider that the current pace of constitutional development as proposed in the package is not quick enough and would want to have universal suffrage for the C[hief] E[xecutive] and LegCo elections as soon as possible, others are concerned that by moving too fast we may undermine the merits of the current system which would impact negatively on balanced participation" and urged all sides to accept his solution as a compromise.[632] However, a protest march organised by pro-democracy legislators on 4 December attracted a reported 250,000 people (although the police estimate was 63,000).[633] On 21 December LegCo rejected the package, because although there were 34 votes for, 24 votes against, and two abstentions, a majority of two-thirds was required to pass the change. [634]

399. The UK Government had described the proposed changes as "an incremental step in the right direction" and said that "in the short term they are the best way of making progress". [635] We are less convinced.

400. We conclude that the package of constitutional changes presented by the Chief Executive in December 2005 was a very limited measure which did not go far enough towards the introduction of representative democracy and universal suffrage.

401. In the wake of the failure of the constitutional reform measures, the Chief Executive stated that he would not bring forward alternative suggestions in the short term, saying that: "It is regrettable because Hong Kong has, gratuitously, missed an opportunity for a giant step towards democracy."[636]

402. We recommend that the Government urge the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to make significant, major steps towards representative democracy and to agree with Beijing a timetable by which direct election of the Chief Executive and LegCo by universal suffrage will be achieved.

Rule of Law and Protection of Human Rights

403. One of the concerns raised at the time of Hong Kong's handover was that human rights and the rule of law would be eroded by incorporation into the People's Republic. We met human rights organisations in Hong Kong and also took evidence on this issue. Amnesty International expressed some concerns about freedom of expression and the press, freedom of association and assembly, violence against women, lack of anti-racial discrimination legislation, and legislation covering discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, the protection of asylum seekers and refugees and rendition and the death penalty.[637] The FCO told us that their overall assessment of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong was positive, but highlighted concerns over the freedom of the media, and restrictions placed on travel to the mainland by pro-democracy politicians.[638]

404. We conclude that, despite some concerns, overall Hong Kong remains a vibrant, dynamic, open and liberal society with a generally free press and an independent judiciary, subject to the rule of law.

Economy and Business

405. The UK retains strong economic links with Hong Kong and UKTI described it as "a crucial centre for UK business interests in the Asia Pacific region".[639] Hong Kong is the UK's 13th largest export market with exports in 2004 of £2.6 billion, exceeding UK exports to mainland China.[640] In 2004, bilateral trade amounted to £8.5 billion; approximately 1,000 British companies have offices in the Hong Kong market.[641] Hong Kong invests around £19 billion in the UK, which is 70% of its total investment in Europe.[642] UKTI stated in evidence that while the UK acts as gateway to the EU market for Hong Kong, Hong Kong performs a similar role for the UK, allowing British companies a way into mainland China. In 2004, 19% of the UK's exports to China went through Hong Kong.[643]

406. Hong Kong's economic relationship with mainland China is significant. China accounts for 45% of Hong Kong's total trade; and Hong Kong accounts for about 10% of China's total trade.[644] Hong Kong is the largest direct investor in China: the Hong Kong Association told us that Hong Kong businesses are estimated to have set up over 60,000 factories in China.[645] The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), signed in 2003, allows Hong Kong products to be exported tariff-free to the mainland, and gives preferential treatment to Hong Kong-based service providers.[646] This agreement has given impetus to the integration of the Pan Pearl River Delta economic area, comprising nine Chinese provinces, Hong Kong and Macao. The British Chamber of Commerce told us that this integration denoted the creation of "a Pearl River Delta Common Market".[647] Professor Schenk stated that: "it is much more evident now that Hong Kong's economic future lies through further integration with the booming mainland economy and, indeed, that prosperity in Hong Kong is dependent on this relationship". [648] The advantage works both ways. The British Chamber of Commerce told us that:

    A further phenomenon has been the unprecedented growth in the number of mainland Chinese businesses that have established themselves in Hong Kong. These companies are increasingly using Hong Kong to network with international business, to raise capital and to explore global markets.[649]

Moreover, Hong Kong has a role to play in offering China its experience to assist the mainland's efforts to improve business structures and governance.

407. Hong Kong has advantage of close links with the Chinese economy but a business culture aligned with international corporate governance and a common-law system based on the British legal system. In addition, the Hong Kong Association told us:

    it is one of the most open and dynamic economies in the world; it has a strong legal system, with an independent judiciary and rule of law; it has an anti-corruption environment and sound corporate governance; a world class communications infrastructure and an international financial centre.[650]

408. Moreover, Hong Kong has its own currency, which is free of exchange controls, fiscal independence from China, and controls its own labour and product market regulation, and trade policy.[651] Hong Kong also performs a significant regional role, in part because of its geographical position, which gives it easy access by air to mainland China and other Asian countries. The Hong Kong Association told us that 1,167 international companies have regional headquarters in Hong Kong, 115 of which are from the UK.[652]

409. Hong Kong's attractions lead many companies to use Hong Kong as "as a springboard to leap into China".[653] The British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong described the "significant risk mitigation benefits of using Hong Kong as an access point for Mainland business".[654] By comparison with China's patchy enforcement of intellectual property rights, "Hong Kong, […] with its solid legal infrastructure and tradition of contract enforcement, is far better able to protect intellectual property rights".[655] While businesses with long experience of mainland China can successfully navigate the challenges of the Chinese market, the Chamber stated that:

    For businesses with little or no experience of Mainland Chinese business norms, Hong Kong companies offer the expertise and trust required. Contracts originating in Hong Kong provide British companies with the assurance that the goods that they have ordered will be delivered on time, to the correct specifications and at the agreed price.[656]

410. Given Hong Kong's economic importance, the UK has a strong interest in making the most of its historical connections with Hong Kong to exploit the business opportunities. However, the Hong Kong Association told us that "there is a feeling that the [UK-Hong Kong] relationship has not strengthened as much as it could have done since the 1997 handover".[657] UK share of Hong Kong's total trade has fallen from 2.8% in 1997 to 2.1% in 2005.[658] The British Chamber of Commerce stated that "the perception in the British, Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese business communities alike has been that the UK has refocused its attention on the Mainland, at the cost of its involvement and profile in Hong Kong".[659] The Chamber called for "a more visible acknowledgement of the scale of UK business interests in Hong Kong and continued firm support from government in promoting Hong Kong".[660] However, the Chamber did note signs of progress in this area, stating that: "In the earlier days of the China Task Force initiative, the Chamber was concerned that Hong Kong was not fully included in the process" but that Chamber members have since been assured that "this was not the case and that senior UK government policy makers were well-aware of the advantages that Hong Kong provides".[661]

411. Particular opportunities available to UK business were described as follows:

    Declining birth rates and increased life expectancy mean that Hong Kong is facing an aging population, which in turn is putting significant strain on health care services. Economic success and demographic changes are also increasing demand for manpower and educational services. Competition in the manufacturing sector is increasingly driving companies to look for improved hi-tech solutions. The environment, however, represents Hong Kong's greatest challenge. Poor air quality and a lack of space in local landfills, in particular, are leading to calls for greater investment in renewable energy and recyclables. These challenges present obvious potential opportunities for British companies skilled in these fields.[662]

412. The Chamber suggested various ways in which the Government could assist UK business in Hong Kong, including greater promotion of UK business in Hong Kong, focusing on highlighting the UK's core strengths, creation of "an easily accessible database providing statistics on the UK's existing engagement in the region" and "regular meaningful updates on UK/China-related events and policy developments".[663] The Chamber also suggested research to isolate the relevant industry sectors which are likely to need help in the future.[664]

413. We recommend that the Government ensure that its strategy on China recognises the continuing economic importance of Hong Kong in its own right, and its role as a gateway to China. We recommend that the Government work with business organisations to identify priority sectors which could benefit from opportunities in Hong Kong, and to offer assistance in delivering market research and trade promotion.

British National (Overseas) Passport holders

414. The FCO told us that: "There are nearly 3.5 million holders of the British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) passport, most of whom live in Hong Kong. There are also an estimated 200,000 British Citizens in Hong Kong".[665] The FCO Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong (July-December 2005) stated that:

    The British Government remains fully committed to providing the highest standard of consular and passport services to the holders of the British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) passport. We continue to offer the same level of consular service to BN(O) passport holders in third countries as we do to other British Nationals and regularly remind all our overseas missions of their obligations towards BN(O)s.[666]

415. However, the FCO pamphlet Support For British Nationals Abroad: A Guide states that:

    We cannot help British nationals (overseas) of Chinese ethnic origin in China, Hong Kong and the Macao Special Administrative Regions. The Chinese authorities consider British nationals (overseas) of Chinese ethnic origin as Chinese nationals, and we have no power to get involved if they are held in mainland China. However, we provide the same help to all British nationals (overseas) living or travelling outside China, Hong Kong and Macao as we do to any other British national in difficulty.[667]

416. In past Reports, our predecessor Committee raised the issue of visa rights for BN(O) and Hong Kong SAR passport holders. 136 countries now allow visa-free or visa on arrival access to holders of Hong Kong SAR passports[668] and 100 countries allow visa-free/ visa on arrival access to holders of BN(O) passports.[669] The latest FCO Six Monthly Report stated that:

    We continue to lobby other European countries and the European Commission to ensure that BN(O) passport holders enjoy the same access within Europe as SAR passport holders. The Foreign Secretary has written to the EU Commission to take this forward and we are working hard to secure early and positive progress.[670]

417. In July, the European Commission published a proposal to amend the Regulation covering visa requirements for third country nationals travelling to the Schengen area.[671] Among the proposed amendments is one that would allow visa-free travel to the Schengen area by holders of BN(O) passports, for a period of three months at a time. This provision already applies to holders of Hong Kong SAR passports. The Council of Ministers will begin to consider this proposal in September, though, as it is a measure applying to the Schengen area, the UK will not formally participate in its adoption.

418. We recommend that the Government set out, in its response to this Report, what progress has been made on the issue of visa-free travel worldwide, by holders of British National (Overseas) passports resident in Hong Kong, and what efforts the Government has made to improve this position. We further recommend that the Government build support within the Council of Ministers for the European Commission proposal to allow visa-free travel to the Schengen area by British National (Overseas) passport holders, to ensure that the proposal is agreed by the Council as soon as possible. We further recommend that the Government set out, in its response to this Report, what potential obstacles, if any, there may to the successful adoption of the proposal.

483   Amendment Fourth, approved on 14 March 2004, by the 10th NPC at its 2nd Session. Back

484   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights Annual Report 2005, Cm 6606, July 2005, p 40 Back

485   Ev 159 Back

486   Ev 159 Back

487   Ev 159 Back

488   "A new deal on rights UN Human Rights Council has chance to establish credibility", Financial Times, 19 June 2006 Back

489   Q 235 Back

490   Ev 224 Back

491   Q 95 Back

492   Ev 36 [Human Rights Watch]; Ev 41 [Amnesty International] Back

493   Q 25 Back

494   UNHCR data, available at Back

495   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights Annual Report 2005, Cm 6606, July 2005, p 41 Back

496   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Tenth Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee Session 1999-2000 China: Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Cm 5038, February 2001, p 5 Back

497   Q 90 Back

498   Q 90 Back

499   Ev 36 Back

500   Q 27 Back

501   United Nations, Civil And Political Rights, Including The Question Of Torture And Detention: Report Of The Special Rapporteur On Torture And Other Cruel, Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment Or Punishment, Manfred Nowak: Mission To China; March 2006, p 39, footnote 72 Back

502   Q 105 Back

503   Q 104 Back

504   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights Annual Report 2005, Cm 6606, July 2005, p 198 Back

505   Ibid, p 42 Back

506   According to the 2004 SPC Work Report, cited in Report Of The Special Rapporteur On Torture And Other Cruel, Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment Or Punishment, p 40 footnote 74. Back

507   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights Annual Report 2005, Cm 6606, July 2005, p 42 Back

508   Q 105 Back

509   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights Annual Report 2005, Cm 6606, July 2005, p 254 Back

510   United Nations Press Release, "Special Rapporteur On Torture Highlights Challenges At End Of Visit To China", 2 December 2005 Back

511   Report Of The Special Rapporteur On Torture And Other Cruel, Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment Or Punishment, p 14 Back

512   Q 103 Back

513   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights Annual Report 2005, Cm 6606, July 2005, p 42 Back

514   Ibid, p 255 Back

515   Report Of The Special Rapporteur On Torture And Other Cruel, Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment Or Punishment, para 33 Back

516   Ibid, para 33 Back

517   Ibid, para 62 Back

518   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights Annual Report 2005, Cm 6606, July 2005, p 42 Back

519   Q 106 Back

520   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights Annual Report 2005, Cm 6606, July 2005, p 259 Back

521   Ev 159 Back

522   Ev 159 Back

523   Ev 39 Back

524   China: Current Developments And Cases Of Concern, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, November 2005, p. 1, 11 Back

525   Ev 314; We discuss the repression of Tibetan Buddhism, and Islam in Xinjiang below at paras 376-80, and 389. Back

526   Q 97 Back

527   Ev 39 Back

528   Ev 114 Back

529   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights Annual Report 2005, Cm 6606, July 2005, p 43 Back

530   We have considered the role of the media in China above, at paras 292 to 297. We consider the jamming of the BBC World Service below at paras 436 to 438. Back

531   China Internet Network Information Center, statistics available at; "China Surpasses U.S. In Internet Use",, 4 March 2006  Back

532   OpenNet Initiative, Internet Filtering in China in 2004-2005: A Country Study, April 2005 Back

533   Provisions on the Administration of Internet News Information Services, available on the website of the Congressional Executive Commission on China Back

534   "Microsoft censors Chinese blogs", BBC News Online, 14 June 2005, Back

535   "Yahoo 'helped jail China writer'", BBC News Online, 7 September 2005, Back

536   "Google censors itself for China", BBC News Online, 25 January 2006, Back

537   Ev 266 [Google]; Ev 270 [Yahoo!]; Ev 286 [Microsoft] Back

538   "Brin Says Google Compromised Principles", ABC News, 6 June 2006, Back

539   Ev 39 Back

540   Ev 114 Back

541   Ev 159-160 Back

542   Ev 233 Back

543   Q 102 Back

544   Q 99 Back

545   Q 25 Back

546   Q 100 Back

547   Ev 160 Back

548   Ev 224 Back

549   Ev 37 Back

550   See below paras 357-9 Back

551   For example, in Foreign Affairs Committee, Tenth Report of Session 1999-2000, China, HC 574-I; First Report of Session 1999-2000, Annual Report on Human Rights 1999, HC 41; Fifth Report of Session 200-2001, Human Rights Annual Report 2001, HC 589; Fourth Report of Session 2002-03, Human Rights Annual Report 2002, HC 257; Fourth Report of Session 2003-04, Human Rights Annual Report 2003, HC 389; Fourth Report of Session 2004-05, Human Rights Annual Report 2004, HC 109; First Report of Session 2005-06, Human Rights Annual Report 2005, HC 574; see Annex 1 for a table of Foreign Affairs Committee recommendations and Government responses. Back

552   Q 99 Back

553   Ev 37 Back

554   Q 24 Back

555   Ev 233 Back

556   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, First Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee Session 2005-06 Annual Report on Human Rights 2005: Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Cm 6774, May 2006, para 114 Back

557   Q 259 Back

558   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, First Report from the Foreign Affairs Committee Session 2005-06 Annual Report on Human Rights 2005: Response of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Cm 6774, May 2006, para 116 Back

559   Q 261 Back

560   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Global Opportunities Fund Annual Report 2004-05, Cm 6665, October 2005, p 132 Back

561   Q 155 Back

562   Q 25 Back

563   Q 149 Back

564   Ev 224 Back

565   Q 155 Back

566   We discuss the arms embargo above, at para 126-134. Back

567   Q 1 Back

568   Q 24 Back

569   Q 259 Back

570   Ev 158 Back

571   Ev 160 Back

572   "US$598 Mln Allocated to Ethnic Regions",, 3 February 2006 Back

573   State Council, Regional Autonomy for Ethnic Minorities in China, February 2005, Preface Back

574   Ev 161 Back

575   Ev 161 Back

576   Michael C. van Walt van Praag, "The Status of Tibet", available at Back

577   Ev 115 Back

578   Ev 161 Back

579   Ev 161 Back

580   Statement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the Forty-Sixth Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day, 10 March 2005, available at  Back

581   Statement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the Forty-Seventh Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day, 10 March 2006, available at Back

582   Ev 170 Back

583   Ev 115 Back

584   The Government of Tibet in Exile, "His Holiness the Dalai Lama recognises the Panchen Lama", 14 May 1995, available at Back

585   "Panchen Lama makes rare public appearance at Buddhist conference", The Associated Press, April 13, 2006 Back

586   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights Annual Report 2005, Cm 6606, July 2005, p 43 Back

587   Ev 161 Back

588   Ev 161 Back

589   "Asian detente: On the roof of the world, India and China put aside differences to reopen trade route", The Guardian, 7 July 2006 Back

590   Ev 115 Back

591   Ev 246 Back

592   "China completes railway to Tibet", BBC News Online, 15 October 2005,  Back

593   Ev 246 Back

594   Ev 115 Back

595   Foreign Affairs Committee, First Report of Session 2005-06, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights Annual Report 2005, Cm 6606, July 2005, HC 574, Q 61 Back

596   Ev 244 Back

597   Ev 244 Back

598   Ev 115 Back

599   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights Annual Report 2005, Cm 6606, July 2005, p 43 Back

600   Q 262 Back

601   Ev 115 Back

602   Ev 147 Back

603   Ev 148 Back

604   Q 113 Back

605   Q 113 Back

606   Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Annual Report 2005, p 143 Back

607   Q 113 Back

608   United Nations Economic and Social Council, Thirty-Fourth Session 25 April-13 May 2005, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant: Concluding observations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - People's Republic of China (including Hong Kong and Macau), para 31 Back

609   Q 113 Back

610   Freedom House, "Freedom in the World - Tibet [China]", 2005, available at Back

611   Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Annual Report 2005, p 157 Back

612   Ibid, p 176 Back

613   Q 115 Back

614   Ev 277 [Dr Caroline Hoy] Back

615   Ev 277 [Dr Caroline Hoy] Back

616   Ev 160 Back

617   Ev 160 Back

618   Ev 160 Back

619   Human Rights Watch, Press Release, "China: Religious Repression of Uighur Muslims - Architecture of Xinjiang Suppression Detailed", 12 April 2005 Back

620   Ibid Back

621   Council on Foreign Relations, "East Turkestan Islamic Movement (China, separatists)", November 2005 Back

622   See above, para 256 to 261. Back

623   Ev 44 Back

624   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights Annual Report 2005, Cm 6606, July 2005, p 43 Back

625   From the website of the Government of Hong Kong SAR, at Back

626   Ibid Back

627   Article 45 states: "The ultimate aim is the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures". Article 68 states: "The ultimate aim is the election of all the members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage". Back

628   Ev 162 Back

629   Ev 162 Back

630   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong January-June 2004, Cm 6292, July 2004, para 42 Back

631   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong July-December 2005, Cm 6751, March 2006, para 4 Back

632   Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London, Press Release, "CE's Statement on Constitutional Development", 30 November 2005 Back

633   Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong July-December 2005, para 14 Back

634   Ibid, para 19 Back

635   Ibid, para 18 Back

636   Ibid, para 20 Back

637   Ev 46-7 Back

638   Ev 116-7 Back

639   Ev 175 Back

640   Ev 175 Back

641   Ev 115; Ev 175 Back

642   Ev 175 Back

643   Ev 175 Back

644   Ev 60 Back

645   Ev 60 Back

646   Ev 59 [Hong Kong Association] Back

647   Ev 259 Back

648   Ev 266 Back

649   Ev 259 Back

650   Ev 61 Back

651   Ev 242 [James Forder] Back

652   Ev 60 Back

653   Ev 60 Back

654   Ev 259 Back

655   Ev 261 Back

656   Ev 261 Back

657   Ev 62 Back

658   Ev 62 Back

659   Ev 259 Back

660   Ev 259 Back

661   Ev 263 Back

662   Ev 260 Back

663   Ev 263 Back

664   Ev 259 Back

665   Ev 115 Back

666   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong July-December 2005, CM 6751, March 2006, para 72 Back

667   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Support For British Nationals Abroad: A Guide, 2006, p. 8 Back

668   The Government of Hong Kong SAR Website, "Topical Issues: Visa-free Access for HKSAR Passports", available at Back

669   British Consulate-General Hong-Kong, "Visa free access for BN(O) passport: Visa-Free Travel Update", 17 June 2005 Back

670   Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong July-December 2005, CM 6751, March 2006, para 74 Back

671   Commission of the European Communities, Proposal for a Council Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders of Member States and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement, COM (2006) 84, Brussels, 13 July 2006 Back

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