HUMAN rights campaigners including a Tiananmen Square survivor were last night preparing for a visit to the UK by the Chinese president Xi Jinping.
With the Communist leader beginning his high-profile four-day state visit today, representatives from human rights groups gathered in the Palace of Westminster for a “stateless lunch” - held as an alternative to the state banquet the Queen is hosting for Mr Xi at Buckingham Palace this evening.
Speakers included the Chinese activist and Tiananmen Square survivor Dr Shao Jiang and UK Director of Human Rights Watch David Mepham.
Mr Mepham called on Prime Minister David Cameron to press for reform amid accusations of a further decline of human rights in China.
He said: “Since President Xi came to power three years ago, human rights conditions in the People’s Republic of China have deteriorated alarmingly.
“David Cameron should speak out strongly and publicly against these abuses, urge far-reaching reform, and press for the release of all those activists, lawyers and journalists so unjustly imprisoned.
“This is a moral duty, but also in our interests. China’s repression, pervasive corruption, its flawed judicial system and rampant impunity - these are a grave threat to China’s stability and economy. And that matters to all of us.”
Dr Shao Jiang, who was jailed for his involvement in the Tiananmen Square protest and who escaped China in 1997, told guests: “The Communist Party of China has never had an electoral mandate. They came to power using the gun and sustained power using the gun.”
The gathering was hosted by Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet.
Tibetan and Amnesty UK protesters are preparing to stage demonstrations to coincide with the ceremonial welcome of Mr Xi on Horse Guards Parade in central London today and will gather in St James’s Park ready for the President’s state carriage procession down The Mall to the Palace.
Allan Hogarth, Amnesty UK’s head of policy, said: “China’s got an appalling human rights record, which has only got worse under Xi Jinping.
“The UK shouldn’t kowtow to China’s threats that trade deals will only be won in return for staying quiet over human rights.
“China executes more people than the rest of the world put together, jails people who peacefully call for democratic reform and also muzzles the work of journalists.
“Mr Cameron should start by publicly asking where missing lawyer Wang Yu is.”
Human rights lawyer Wang Yu vanished from her Beijing home in July and is now believed to be in solitary detention. Amnesty UK said China had orchestrated a large-scale clampdown on activists and lawyers with at least 245 targeted in the past 100 days and up to 30 still missing or in police custody.