The Lord Alton of Liverpool
House of Commons
02 December 2020
Dear Lord Alton,
Thank you for your correspondence of 13 November addressed to Lord Ahmad raising the detention of Zhang Zhan by the Chinese authorities. I am replying as the Minister responsible for China.
You raise the case of Zhang Zhan who is currently in police detention in Shanghai following her public reporting as a citizen journalist.
The UK is aware of this case and will continue to follow it closely. China ranks fourth bottom on Reporters without Borders’ 2020 Press Freedom Index and bottom in Freedom House’s 2019 Internet Freedom Index.
There are concerns that China’s efforts are influencing coverage of China and compromising editorial independence and that other countries are replicating China’s legislation and practices which restrict media freedoms. We believe a free press and the free flow of information are vital for good governance.
We have consistently raised our concerns about media freedoms in China, including other cases such as the sentencing of citizen journalist and rights activist Huang Qi, and will continue to do so. British diplomats have attempted to attend trials of civilian journalists and rights activists in China to show our support.
Working with international partners to maximise impact, we regularly express our concerns about China’s actions towards its citizens that run counter to China’s international treaty obligations, including detentions without trial, detention of human rights defenders, and persecution of some religious and ethnic minorities.
And on 6 October, alongside Germany we brought together a total of 39 countries to express grave concern at the situation in Xinjiang and Hong Kong in a joint statement at the UN General Assembly Third Committee.
The Foreign Secretary has personally raised our serious concerns with his Chinese counterpart on a number of occasions.
Nigel Adams MP
Minister of State for Asia