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MP Pushes Human Rights In Sartorial Style

MP Pushes Human Rights In Sartorial Style

Green MP Keith Locke and his Tibetan influenced scarf - Photo courtesy of the Green Party

Yesterday Green MP Keith Locke attended the official luncheon in honour of
Wen Jiabao the Premier of the People’s Republic of China wearing a natty scarf. The colourful scarf was worn in support of the struggle of the Tibetan people for national, cultural and religious freedom.

Later on during Question Time the issue of Tibet and any discussions around the land made famous by the Tintin book (Tintin in Tibet) was raised by Mr Locke and fellow Green MP Sue Kedgley. Mr Locke, while wishing to question aspects of China's policy over Tibet, was also keen that New Zealand maintains a dialogue with China over other issues of pressing world importance – namely the crisis looming over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

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Keith Locke: What concerns has the Government expressed to the Chinese Premier during his visit regarding protection of the political, cultural, and religious rights of the Tibetan people?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: As I said, the general matter was traversed during discussions this morning. I am not aware—obviously, I have not had time to be briefed by the Prime Minister—of any private discussions so far today.

Keith Locke: Did the Government discuss the Iranian nuclear programme with the Chinese Premier, and did it agree with him that the best course is dialogue with Iran, not threats of sanctions or military actions as being pushed for by the United States?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: In the limited time available we traversed issues of more central importance to New Zealand.

Sue Kedgley: Why will the Government not come out publicly and call on the Chinese Government to engage in a political dialogue with the Dalai Lama to bring genuine democracy and autonomy for the Tibetan people; is it because this Government is not prepared to do anything—not even to raise our voice on behalf of the Tibetan people—that might ruffle the feathers of the Chinese Government and stand in the way of our craven pursuit of a free-trade deal with China; if not, why not?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Those matters in relation to Tibet have been raised many times with the Chinese Government by the Minister of Foreign of Affairs. We do note that some progress has been made by the Chinese in the civil rights area compared with, say, 25 years ago. We certainly do believe that a free-trade agreement with China would be in the interests of nearly all New Zealanders.

ENDS

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