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Free Tibet before free-trade with China

9 March 2005

Free Tibet before free-trade with China

Helen Clark should use her keynote address at tomorrow’s trade summit to tell the Chinese Government that New Zealand won’t give it a free-trade deal until it ends its military occupation of Tibet, the Greens say.

“March 10 marks the 46th anniversary of the Tibetan people’s uprising against Chinese occupation,” said Green Co-Leader Rod Donald. “It’s totally insensitive for business and political leaders to discuss how to make big profits by trading with China on this solemn occasion.

“I fear the Prime Minister and the other leaders attending the summit will turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses in China and occupied Tibet and the fact that China’s economy is built on modern day slavery.”
China has an appalling record on labour standards, refusing to sign core International Labour Organisation conventions and to abolish forced labour, Mr Donald said.

“China operates prison labour camps believed to house seven million inmates, who are forced to work up to 16 hours a day, without health or safety protections or adequate food, producing a variety of products for export. Some of these slave-made products would receive preferential trade access to the New Zealand market were the Government to sign a free-trade agreement with China.”

Mr Donald has also challenged the organisers of the conference, the Auckland Rotary Club, to apply Rotary's own four-way test to free-trade with China.

“Free trade with China fails the Rotary four-way test on at least three counts: it isn't the truth, it certainly isn’t fair to all concerned; it may build goodwill and better friendships, but it won't be beneficial to all concerned.”
Mr Donald will be attending protests in Wellington and Auckland tomorrow (Thursday March 10) to highlight

China’s human rights abuses, particularly against the people of Tibet, as follows:

-Friends of Tibet protest, Chinese Embassy, Glenmore Street, Wellington, 7.30-8.30am. (Green Human Rights Spokesperson Keith Locke will also be in attendance.)

-Free-Trade Agreement Protest Rally, outside China trade forum, Hilton Hotel, Princes Wharf, off Quay Street, Auckland, 12.30pm-2pm. Available 2pm-3.30pm for interviews.


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