Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. World
  2. Asia
25 September 2015

George Osborne praised by Chinese state media for keeping quiet on human rights

It comes as the Dalai Lama condemned David Cameron’s money-focused approach to China.

By Stephen Bush

George Osborne has been praised by Chinese state media for focussing on business rather than human rights. The Global Times hailed the Chancellor as “the first Western official in recent years who focused on business potential rather than raising a magnifying glass to the ‘human rights issue'”.

Amnesty International’s latest report into China describes wide-ranging use of arbirtrary detention of activists, with “torture and other ill-treatment” remaining endemic. In March of 2014, four lawyers investigating conditions in a “Legal Education Centre” – in practice, according to Amnesty, the centres operate as detention centres – were themselves detained and tortured. “One of them, Tang Jitian, said that he was strapped to an iron chair, slapped in the face, kicked, and hit so hard over the head with a plastic bottle filled with water that he passed out,” the report reveals.

Osborne’s warm reception in the Chinese press came as he became the first British minister to visit the Xinjiang province. Campaigners had called for the Chancellor to condemn the heavy-handed treatment of the province’s Muslim Uighur minority. 

Under David Cameron, Britain has quietly sidelined attempts to encourage greater freedom within China, a policy direction that was condemned by the Dalai Lama this week in an interview with the Spectator“Money, money, money. That’s what this is about. Where is morality?” the Dalai Lama said when asked what he would say to the Prime Minister, who has ruled out another meeting with the Tibetan monk in order to avoid angering the Chinese government.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How to create a responsible form of “buy now, pay later”
“Unions are helping improve conditions for drivers like me”
Transport is the core of levelling up