Sunday, 30 November 2008

Human Rights - Torture
Hong Kong

The UN Committee Against Torture issued its Concluding Observations on China's fourth periodic report under the Convention Against Torture. The report documented systemic torture of political and criminal detainees and widespread abuse in the Chinese legal system. A Chinese FM spokesman denounced the report as "slanderous" and accused "some biased committee members" as untruthful and driven by a political agenda, despite the fact that the report was issued by the Committee as a whole which included Mr. Wang Xuexian, a senior diplomat from China, as its vice-chairperson.

Meanwhile, the same "biased and untruthful" Committee appeared to have much less interest in "fabricating" facts on Hong Kong, criticising merely the use of body searches by the police.


Outside students of the history of international law, few may have even heard of the word "suzerainty" when British Foreign Secretary David Miliband denounced its use in relation to UK's formal position on the territorial status of Tibet, saying:

"Our recognition of China's 'special position' in Tibet developed from the outdated concept of suzerainty. Some have used this to cast doubt on the aims we are pursuing and to claim that we are denying Chinese sovereignty over a large part of its own territory. We have made clear to the Chinese Government, and publicly, that we do not support Tibetan independence. Like every other EU member state, and the United States, we regard Tibet as part of the People's Republic of China."

International Organisations

Taiwan became a "sponsoring member" of an obscure inter-governmental organisation called "Agency for International Trade Information and Cooperation" (AITIC) under its WTO name of "Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu". Mainland China is not a member of AITIC.


The mainland and Taiwan signed four historic agreements in Taipei that would allow the two sides to operate daily direct flights, direct cargo flights, direct shipping and direct postal exchanges as well as cross-strait food safety co-operation. This was made possible as the Ma Ying-jeou administration scrapped old security and sovereignty concerns by allowing planes from the two sides to fly into each other's air space directly without having to first go through Hong Kong or a third country.