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1991 - Mr Major’s Comments on China

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on China, made in an interview held in Peking on Tuesday 3rd September 1991.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked whether the talks with Li Peng broke the usual formalities].

PRIME MINISTER:

I do not believe that it does. Our discussions today were about bilateral matters, about international matters in our shared responsibilities as members of the Security Council and specifically about human rights. There are very strong feelings about human rights and I think it is necessary to express those not discourteously but bluntly and clearly.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked for how long in advance he had intended to raise the matter of human rights].

PRIME MINISTER:

In my discussions today with Premier Li Peng I not only expressed my concerns, not only detailed the cases and the events that were of concern to me, but we agreed that this was a matter that would be discussed further between us. So a dialogue has been established, that is a new set of circumstances.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked when the decision had been made].

PRIME MINISTER:

The issue of human rights, the fact that I was going to deal with that was in my mind from the moment I decided to come to China, it was one of the reasons for coming. It was necessary on its own to come to sign the Airport Agreement, I had no doubt in my mind about that, it was in the interests of Hong Kong, it was right to come and I would have come just for that. But having decided that I was coming for that, the opportunity was clearly there to discuss human rights and to register the concerns that I feel and that I believe people around the world feel about many matters in China.