Amnesty expects the King to mention human rights in China
Amnesty International believes the Norwegian Government and the Royal Couple must speak up for human rights and freedom of expression when they visit China next week.
Flanked by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Industry and a record-breaking large business delegation, the King will travel for eight days in Zhōngguó (The Middle Kingdom) from Thursday onwards.
Amnesty International believes it is in its place that the entire delegation has human rights in mind in the meetings with Chinese authorities, businesses and the like.
– Norway can not bypass human rights in China, without losing all credibility as a country that stands for these rights. It will also be a terrible blow to all the committed people in China who are trying to improve the situation in their country – and we hope and expect Norway to speak up for them, says Responsible for China in Amnesty International Norway, Gerald Kador Folkvord to NTB.
Wishes for clarity
The counsellor in Amnesty International asks the Norwegian King to be «clear on human rights» during the visit, where he will meet with the Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing and visit businesses and politicians both in Dunhuang, Gansu Province and in Shanghai.
He also calls on the Norwegian Government to address the situation in the autonomous Xinjiang region in the northwest of the country, which is largely populated by Muslim Uighurs. The Human Rights Organisation recently published a report claiming that up to one million persons are held in detention camps in the province. According to Amnesty International, many of them are accused of being extremists based on very flaky evidence without a verdict.
– Amnesty International expects the Government, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Industry spearheading, to address challenges with freedom of expression, prosecution of lawyers, journalists and human rights defenders in general, and the situation in Xinjiang in particular with the Chinese authorities, Folkvord goes on.
Communications Manager at the Royal Court, Guri Varpe, refers to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD) for comments on human rights in China.
– The Foreign Ministry handles the political issues when it’s a state visit because the Royal Couple then represent the Government, she states.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide (Conservatives) says Norway wish for «a broad relationship with China».
– Dialogue and cooperation on key issues such as climate and sustainable development, international trade and globalisation, peace, reconciliation and human rights are central issues, she writes in an email to NTB.
Søreide stresses that human rights are an integral part of the Government’s foreign policy.
– Therefore, it is also an important part of the agenda in our dialogue with China.
– The relationship with China is developing positively, she concludes.
A major issue in 1997
The tone is somewhat different from the last state visit to China in 1997. At that time, human rights issues were the main theme in the political talks between the Norwegian and Chinese authorities in Beijing. The Chinese, among other things, were presented with a list of persons the Norwegian authorities thought had been treated unjustly.
– The question of human rights is over the purely commercial interests, Secretary of State, Knut Vollebæk (KrF) stated before the visit.
Much has changed since then.
Norway came out of a six-year diplomatic freezer with China in 2016, which was triggered by the Nobel Committee chose to award the dissident, Liu Xiaobo, in 2010. The cold relationship led to difficulties for the Norwegian export industry, among other things. Prior to the award, Norway had for several years a human rights dialogue with China, which also floundered.
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