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Trade with China doesn't mean silence on rights

7 December 2004

Hon Matt Robson MP, Progressive Deputy Leader

Fair trade with China doesn't mean silence on human rights

New Zealand's desire to lower unfair barriers on our exports into China doesn't mean we should ever tone down our championing of human rights or our support for democratic renewal in China, says Progressive MP Matt Robson.

Council of Trade Unions' president Ross Wilson today criticized the government of China's decision to postpone a seminar on labour standards which was due to be held there next week.

"It is good news that we have a government that is committed to engaging with China and helping put practical measures in place to facilitate greater access to China's important market for our exporters.

"But it is important to remember that while our government seeks preferential access to China's large and growing market that doesn't ever mean that the Chinese government is off-limits to public criticism because all governments must always be open to public scrutiny," the Progressive MP said.

"Abuses of human rights and the suppression of democratic unions must continue to be highlighted by democrats the world over. Chinese workers will organise, as they have done before, for democracy and better working conditions and democrats from outside China must always lend them public support to do so," Matt Robson said.

"As China increasingly opens up to the world, and its people grow in wealth, there is no doubt at all that the forces of democracy will grow in China and the government of China can expect democrats everywhere to support and encourage that development," the Progressive MP said.

ENDS

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