China

Osborne praised for 'not stressing human rights' in China

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne prepares to board a train from the city of Urumqi in north west China to Turpan, 23 September 2015 Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Osborne is the first UK minister to have visited China's Xinjiang province

UK Chancellor George Osborne has been praised by Chinese state media for focusing on business ahead of human rights during his visit to Xinjiang.

The Global Times said he was "the first Western official in recent years who focused on business potential rather than raising a magnifying glass to the 'human rights issue'".

Mr Osborne has spent the past five days in China to boost trade links.

He has said he raised human rights privately during his visit.

In an editorial (in Chinese), the Global Times praised Mr Osborne's "pragmatism regarding his China policy", adding that "it should be diplomatic etiquette for foreign leaders not to confront China by raising the human rights issue".

"Keeping a modest manner is the correct attitude for a foreign minister visiting China to seek business opportunities. Some Westerners believe their officials should behave like a master of human rights to show their superiority over China and the East."

'Two completely different systems'

Mr Osborne this week became the first UK minister to visit Xinjiang, a restive province in China's far west .

Campaigners had urged him to raise concerns about the treatment of the province's Muslim Uighur minority. Amnesty International said Uighurs had been subjected to "heavy-handed" security measures since an outbreak of unrest in 2009.

Speaking during his visit there, Mr Osborne said "we raise human rights, but we do it in the context of also talking about issues like economic development".

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Media captionGeorge Osborne: "We raise human rights, but we do it in the context of talking about issues like economic development"

"Of course we're two completely different political systems and we raise human rights issues, but I don't think that is inconsistent with also wanting to do more business with one-fifth of the world's population."

Mr Osborne, who also visited Shanghai and Beijing this week, has set out an aim of making China the UK's second largest trading partner by 2025.

"We are building an ever closer relationship with China - it's a partnership that is set to unleash growth and help regions like Xinjiang, where we know investment can make a real difference, as well as unleash new growth back home," he said on Wednesday.

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