Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has joined a cross-party meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss human rights issues in China and Hong Kong. Mr Carmichael spoke with Mr Pompeo as part of a panel of MPs and said it was essential that international pressure was not directed at China solely for narrow US interests, but instead had a wider goal of re-establishing the international rules-based order.
Speaking after the event, Mr Carmichael said:
“We may not see eye to eye on all issues but I was glad to be able to discuss areas of shared concern with Mr Pompeo, especially on China. An international focus on human rights in China – whether in Hong Kong, Xinjiang or Tibet – has been long overdue.”
“I made the point that human rights and the international rule of law need to be at the heart of our efforts, without treating this as a zero-sum game. If there is a truly multilateral project to build support for the international rules-based order then we have the opportunity to make positive change. If these efforts are just directed for the sake of US interests then the coalition of diplomatic partners will quickly fracture.
“There remains a lot of US foreign policy that causes me massive concern. The Secretary of State was at pains to emphasise that he understood the need for a multilateral approach. This is a government, however, that has continues to undermine multilateral institutions such as the World Health Organisation and World Trade Organisation, and which withdrew from the Paris agreement on climate change.
“There is a role for both the US and the UK to lead on supporting China to step back from its repressive activities and to respect essential human rights. Time will tell whether we have the right political will and intentions on both sides of the Atlantic.”