Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chinese human rights row: both sides are right

Whenever a clash occurs between a British prime minister and a Chinese dignitary over human rights, I flinch on behalf of the offended dignitary and then remember the conversation I had with an anti-American Brit at a party.

The process kicked in again yesterday when Wen Jiabao, China's premier, ticked off David Cameron for insisting on publicly airing concerns about the treatment of Chinese dissidents such as the newly-released (again) artist Ai Weiwei.

I have a lot of sympathy for the Chinese, who resent being lectured by the west on human rights, because the indignity heaped on China during the 100 years or so of western expansionism in their part of the world is still a very vivid humiliation, taught in all schools.

If we taught the history of the British-manipulated opium wars of the mid-19th century in a more than cursory way, it would be difficult to avoid concluding that – in the always mixed legacy of empire – this was a pretty shaming policy: imposing Indian opium exports on China to restore the trade balance. Full Article >>>

Location: Cayman Islands