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Higgins criticises 'obsequious' welcome of Chinese vice-president

The Socialist Party TD has slammed the media and political establishment’s welcoming of the man likely to be the next president of China.

 Xi Jinping samples one of farmer James Lynch's Irish coffees during a visit to the Lynch Farm at Six Mile Bridge in Clare yesterday.
Xi Jinping samples one of farmer James Lynch's Irish coffees during a visit to the Lynch Farm at Six Mile Bridge in Clare yesterday.
Image: Maxwell Photography/PA Wire/Press Association Images

SOCIALIST PARTY TD Joe Higgins has criticised what he calls the “obsequious welcome of the political, business and media establishments” of the Chinese vice-president Xi Jinping who has been visiting Ireland.

The man likely to be the next president of China has been undertaking a three-day visit to Ireland which concludes today as he meets president Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin.

Joe Higgins told RTÉ Radio’s Marian Finucane programme yesterday that the human rights abuses of the Chinese regime had been “completely airbrushed out of the saturation coverage” of Xi’s visit to Ireland which included a trip to a dairy farm and the Cliffs of Moher yesterday.

“The reality is that this man is presiding over a regime that is vicious in its repression of its owns people who want more democratic rights, human rights. It’s a vicious prison house of exploitation for workers, for Chinese workers. That’s very well documented,” he said.

Higgins’ comments were echoed by the Irish Anti-war Movement (IAWM) who released a statement yesterday afternoon saying it was concerned about the “indulgent welcome” by the Irish government of Xi Jinping.

“While it is understandable that Irish people should welcome trade links with big economies like China, particularly in these difficult recessionary times, this must not be at any price,” PRO of the IAWM, Jim Roche, said in a statement.

“We must uphold Ireland’s long tradition of support for basic human rights around the world – including in China.

“The Chinese government has an appalling record in this regard with the suppression of the Tiananmen Square pro democracy protesters in 1989, its continual harassment of the Falon Gong and dissidents and its suppression of the rights of the people of Tibet.”

Higgins added that it was “extraordinary” that there was “not a single facility for any questioning” by the Irish media who are covering the visit.

Xi will be at Áras an Uachtaráin today where he will meet with President Michael D Higgins. He will also attend the Ireland-China Trade and Investment Forum in Kilmainham before he leaves the country, bound for Turkey.

Ireland is the only EU country the high-level Chinese delegation is visiting.

In pictures: Chinese vice president Xi Jinping’s Irish visit so far

Government must be ‘forceful’ on human rights during China visit – Amnesty

Chinese Vice President in Ireland for three day visit

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Hugh O'Connell

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