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British minister presses China on human rights, Darfur

British minister presses China on human rights, Darfur

A British minister said Thursday he pressured China to improve its human rights record, telling officials a failure to do so could affect their staging of next year's Olympic Games.
Lord Mark Malloch Brown, Britain's minister for Africa, Asia, and the United Nations, also appealed to China to help persuade the Sudanese government to negotiate with the African country's rebel groups.
"It is critical for us to go on reminding China that there is still very significant progress in our view to be made on the human rights side," Malloch Brown said.
"I also very much raised the linkage to the Olympics and the public relations costs if the (human rights) issues were not handled correctly," he said.
Ahead of next year's Beijing Olympics, China has already come under fire from various human rights groups that say it has failed to deliver on a pledge to guarantee press freedoms during the games and a promise that the staging of the event would improve the country's overall human rights situation.
Tibetan activist groups have said that China is using the torch relay, which has a stop on Mount Everest, to firm up its claim over the remote Himalayan region.
Others have blasted China for a perceived lack of action in pushing the Sudan government to do more to end the crisis in Darfur. They say the Beijing Olympics will be the "Genocide Games" if more is not done to stop the violence.
Malloch Brown urged his Chinese counterparts to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and raised the case of self-trained lawyer Chen Guangcheng, whose attorneys say he was jailed in retaliation for his activism.
The minister said he also mentioned Chen's wife, who was barred last week from going to the Philippines to accept an award on her husband's behalf for his work documenting cases of forced abortions and other abuses by family planning officials.
Chinese officials told Malloch Brown they would "look into it," he said.
Malloch Brown arrived Tuesday for a two-day visit that included a meeting with China's special envoy on Darfur, Liu Guijing. He was to meet Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi later Thursday before heading back to London.
On Darfur, Malloch Brown said he made an appeal to China to help bring the government to the negotiating table with the rebels and hammer out a peace agreement.
New peace negotiations involving more than a dozen groups and the government are expected to start in October.
"There is a general recognition that China can be particularly effective in pressing the government and that we, and others in Europe, can probably be effective more on the rebel side," he said. "I think we both feel we have to push for both sides to sit down and do a deal."
China buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil exports. It sells Sudan weapons and military aircraft and is building dams and other infrastructure in the country.
More than 200,000 people have died and more than 2.5 million have been displaced in Darfur since ethnic African rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated central government in 2003, accusing it of discrimination. Sudan is accused of retaliating by unleashing Arab militias responsible for much of the violence _ an accusation the government denies.


Updated : 2021-06-19 03:05 GMT+08:00