Manchester City Council

The East is Red

Only one thing I could blog about today, the visit to Manchester of the President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping. Although we have had many important visitors to the city including several Prime Ministers, I cannot recall us previously welcoming a Head of State as part of an official State Visit, and certainly not one with the status of heading the world's most populous country and its second biggest, heading for biggest, economy.

Manchester has a long relationship with China going back over 150 years, and visitors to the Great Hall in the Town Hall will see China on one of the ceiling panels representing our then trading relationships. More recently we have had a friendship agreement with Wuhan for the past twenty nine years, a relationship that is now more active than ever.

At the heart of the current relationship is of course economic growth and jobs. We already have Chinese companies like BCEG investing in the city and creating local jobs. Yesterday I was talking with the Executive Vice-President of the Bank of China, who have long had a branch in the city, and are exploring the possibility of many Chinese SMEs establishing themselves in the city again creating local jobs. But it's not one way traffic, and the delegation that I accompanied to China last month included lots of UK businesses with the potential to sell goods and services to China. I have blogged before about the need for Manchester to play an active role in the global economy, and we certainly cannot ignore a player of China's significance.

I was interviewed about the visit on Radio Manchester this morning and inevitably the question of human rights came up. It's worth noting that is less than twenty years since this country signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, so even here it is work in progress. I first visited China twenty nine years ago and have seen almost unbelievable changes over that time including improvements in labour rights, the legal system, and human rights education. President Xi himself has noted that China is in a process " to realise social fairness and justice and continuously promote the development of the human rights cause ". As a friend of China we need to recognise that they are on a journey and to support them on the way. As with all friendships there might be disagreements from time to time but if you want to stay friends you don't post them on Facebook.

There are 5 responses to “The East is Red”

  1. Isobel Says:

    Stating that this country signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights less than 20 years' ago is a pathetic attempt to try to justify human rights abuses in China, and therefore justify doing business with a questionable regime! Signing a treaty is not the only measure of human rights, actions speak louder than words, oral or written! It is hard, however, to maintain Britain's reputation as a humane country with the way our current government is treating refugees and the poor and vulnerable. What's worse, is that certain Labour councils do deals with this government, ignoring the democratic process and also treat homeless people with contempt. Bon appetit, Richard, when you're dining with Gideon, David and Xi. Don't spare a thought for the people you allegedly represent!

  2. Richard Leese Says:

    Thank you to those of you who have pointed out that I have confused the European Convention on Human Rights which came into force in 1953 with the 1998 Human Rights Act which gave it the force of UK law. The pint is no less valid

  3. franky Says:

    I agree with the chinese spokeswoman on Newsnight: raising people from poverty is a human right, something the Tories don't agree with, impoverishing lower paid poor by taxcredit changes

  4. Anon Says:

    On Wednesday 25 November at 2pm at the People's History Museum there is a free event focusing on two neglected episodes in the worldwide struggle against fascism. The first is the China Campaign Committee, which organised in solidarity in Britain with China's resistance against Japanese militarism from 1937 to 1945. Second is the Chinese Merchant Seaman's Reserve Pools, based in Liverpool during WW2. Some 15,000 to 20,000 Chinese seamen were used to serve the dangerous run across the Atlantic bringing vital oil supplies to Britain.

    Speakers include Tom Buchanan, author of East wind: China and the British left, 1925-1976, and Charles and Yvonne Foley from Half and Half, a network for families of Chinese seamen who were repatriated after WW2.
    People's History Museum, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3ER Tel 0161 838 9190.

  5. Not fooled Says:

    All well and good, Mr Leese-but you left out one important point regarding the State visit -the odious sight of the architect of the continuing demolition of public services and the relentless attacks on the poor-Mr Cameron-strutting around Manchester on a dreadfully orchestrated pr publicity stunt-notably at MCFC.
    A dreadful sight for many at the sharp end of his government's policies-not to mention our communities,MCC staff dealing with the continuing effects of the cuts,and trade unionists battling against increasingly undemocratic and restrictive legislation-and one that yet again sends them so many mixed and confusing messages.
    On one hand you continually complain to the press about the impact of Tory cuts,then on the other not only invite the Tories (who are by and large despised in Manchester,and despite all the Northen powerhouse soundbite rhetoric are simply not trusted in the big Northern cities) to come and have not their conference in Manchester (sparking huge waves of protest in the city)but then a nice dinner at the Town Hall?
    Is it any wonder so many are disillusioned with politics and politicians-when it's becoming increasingly difficult to tell who stands for what,and one from the other?
    You simply can't have it both ways or sit in the fence with this one, Mr Leese.
    Where do you stand on the Tories?
    Or is it literally a case of "devolution at ALL cost?"



The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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