British PM hints he raised Nobel winner's case with China

11th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron hinted Thursday that he had raised the case of jailed Nobel Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo with Chinese leaders on a trade trip this week.

Cameron said "nothing and no-one was off limits" in discussions with Premier Wen Xiabao and President Hu Jintao during his visit, Britain's largest ever trade mission to China.

"I raised human rights and I can tell you that nothing and no-one was off limits," Cameron told the BBC in Seoul, where he is attending the Group of 20 summit.

"But it's right that we do some of these things privately, firmly, not using a megaphone," he added.

Cameron's two-day visit to China was shadowed by questions about whether and how he would broach human rights issues with leaders while attempting to double trade between the two countries.

He insisted in a keynote speech Wednesday that being able to talk about human rights "makes our relationship stronger," while acknowledging disagreements and differences between the two countries.

Liu's case has generated international controversy since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last month to the fury of Beijing.

He was jailed in December for 11 years on subversion charges after co-authoring Charter 08, a bold petition calling for democratic reform in one-party China that has been widely circulated online and signed by thousands.

Britain is among the countries to say it will not heed a Chinese call for Western diplomats to steer clear of Liu's award ceremony in Oslo next month.

Downing Street officials had previously declined to confirm that Cameron raised Liu's case with Wen and Hu.

Cameron went into the trip saying he wanted to drum up deals worth billions of dollars but the total amount signed is reportedly not more than more than 1.4 billion dollars.

Cameron's longer-term target is to double the level of trade in goods and services between Britain and China by 2015 from 51.8 billion dollars last year.

© 2010 AFP

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