China’s foreign minister denied yesterday that anyone raising the human rights issue in relation to this summer’s Beijing Olympics would be arrested.
His denial came as Britain’s Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, insisted he had raised concerns over human rights during his first state visit to Beijing but reiterated his view that human rights should not be linked to the Olympic Games.
“People in China enjoy extensive freedom of speech,” Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said after talks with Mr Miliband. “No one will get arrested because he has said human rights were more important than the Olympic Games. This is impossible.”
The Chinese minister’s comments came after questions about the case of Yang Chunlin, who went on trial last week on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” for protesting against the Olympics. The former factory worker from north-east China was detained last July after he circulated an online petition saying ‘We want human rights, not the Olympics‘.
See also Beijing dismisses rights fears from the Financial Times.