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Labour cannot ignore China gagging NZ union leader

7 December 2004

Labour cannot ignore China gagging our union leaders

The Greens are calling on the Labour Government to call off trade negotiations with China in response to the Chinese Government cancelling CTU President Ross Wilson's visitor's visa.

The Chinese Government has cancelled an OECD seminar in Beijing next week which was due to discuss raising labour standards in China. Mr Wilson was to attend the seminar.

"This is tantamount to a gagging order," Green Co-Leader Rod Donald said. "It illustrates that the Chinese Government will not allow open discussion of its pitiful and exploitative labour standards.

"It is meaningless for the Government to say it intends to discuss labour and environmental standards in trade talks with China, when the Chinese regime refuses to allow union leaders from OECD countries, including New Zealand's Ross Wilson, to talk about those very issues.

"Labour must take a principled stand against China's attempt to stifle free speech. If it does not call off trade talks with China, it will have sold out workers in both New Zealand and China.

"What will it take for the Government to face the fact that it is dealing with an oppressive regime that has no respect for labour or environmental standards, for freedom of speech, or for the basic human rights of its own citizens?

"Labour should be ashamed to negotiate a preferential trade deal with a regime that tries to silence the very international labour movement our government claims to strongly identify with."

Mr Donald has sought permission from the Speaker to ask the Prime Minister an urgent question on this matter in Parliament.

ENDS

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