Chancellor George Osborne is being praised in China for not focusing on human rights in his visit to Xinjiang. Instead, he has strictly focused on improving the country’s business relations with the UK.
Osborne’s visit has been a breath of fresh air for China.
The Global Times, an English-language Chinese newspaper under the People’s Daily, said that Osborne was “the first Western official in recent years who focused on business potential rather than raising a magnifying glass to the ‘human rights issue”.
The editorial piece praised Osborne’s “pragmatism regarding his China policy”, adding that “it should be diplomatic etiquette for foreign leaders not to confront China by raising the human rights issue”.
“Keeping a modest manner is the correct attitude for a foreign minister visiting China to seek business opportunities. Some Westerners believe their officials should behave like a master of human rights to show their superiority over China and the East.”
Mr Osborne said “we raise human rights, but we do it in the context of also talking about issues like economic development. Of course we’re two completely different political systems and we raise human rights issues, but I don’t think that is inconsistent with also wanting to do more business with one-fifth of the world’s population.”
Mr Osborne’s visit has been a success so far and is part of his effort to make China the UK’s second largest trading partner by 2025.
“We are building an ever closer relationship with China – it’s a partnership that is set to unleash growth and help regions like Xinjiang, where we know investment can make a real difference, as well as unleash new growth back home,” he said on Wednesday.