§ John Robertson
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment his Department has made of human rights in(a)Taiwan and(b)China.
§ Mr. Rammell
We are concerned at the use of the death penalty in Taiwan, but have no other major concerns about human rights there.
We have serious concerns about a wide range of human rights issues in mainland China including: the extensive use of the death penalty; the continuing harassment of political dissidents, religious practitioners. 1453W and adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual movement; the situation in Tibet; severe restrictions on freedoms of speech, association and religion.
We believe, however, that the best way to improve the situation "on the ground" is to engage critically with, rather than isolate, China. We do this through the biannual UK China Human Rights Dialogue. We raise our concerns through ministerial contacts and public statements. We also raise our concerns through EU mechanisms.
A more detailed assessment of our concerns and activities can be found in the most recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Annual Human Rights Report for 2003 which was presented to Parliament by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in September last year. The report is also available on the FCQ website at www.fco.gov.uk/humanrightsreport2003.