Financial Times: Letter: Liberal democracies must call out China on its rights record
From Lord Patten of Barnes, Governor of Hong Kong, 1992-97, House of Lords, London SW1,
Lord Mandelson argues (“West needs to agree an approach that avoids demonising China”, Letters, January 26) for a coherent and agreed partnership between the new Biden administration in Washington and the EU, presumably alongside the UK, to deal with China.
He rightly criticises the zigzags of policy under the recently departed US president. But he might ask himself why so many brave and outspoken dissidents in China, Hong Kong and outside, supported Mr Trump. It was because he did not hesitate to denounce the Chinese Communist party for its wicked acts. These dissidents have noted the appalling consequences in the last century when liberal democracies failed to stand up sufficiently strongly against totalitarian regimes.
Lord Mandelson’s plea for a sensible policy, presumably constraining Chinese bad behaviour and encouraging good, would be more credible if he said what he thought about some of the actions for which China is “demonised”: for example, the persecution of dissidents and human rights lawyers; the terrible crimes against the Uighurs in Xinjiang; the evisceration of Hong Kong’s freedoms and the beginning of an assault on the independence of the judiciary in that city; and the military threat to Taiwan.
I rather doubt whether China sincerely wants, as Lord Mandelson suggests, a place as a responsible stakeholder in a rules based multi-party system. After all it broke its word enshrined in a treaty over Hong Kong, went back on what it had promised about non-militarisation in the South China Sea and plainly ignored its obligations under the International Health Regulations, thus making it more difficult to constrain the coronavirus pandemic in its early stages.
Where there are already rules, Beijing breaks them. We should not forget the commitment of Xi Jinping and his regime to the policies set out in “Communiqué Number 9” to attack the practices of liberal democracy at every opportunity.
Lord Patten of Barnes Governor of Hong Kong, 1992-97
House of Lords, London SW1, UK