Snub to US women puts pressure on Mrs Clinton

RUPERT CORNWELL

in Washington

and TERESA POOLE

in Peking

China has still not granted visas to many American women seeking to attend next week's unofficial world women's gathering near Peking, further increasing pressure on Hillary Clinton not to participate in the UN-sponsored World Conference on Women which starts in the Chinese capital on 4 September.

Despite stern State Department strictures that the parallel non-Governmental (NGO) conference is a "fundamental and integral" part of the occasion, hundreds of women here were still waiting for visas or had been notified that accommodation was not available in Huairou, where the NGO conference is being held.

Concern that China is exercising an unauthorised power of veto over participation in the NGO forum grew yesterday when a government spokesman said that some delegates who are viewed by the Chinese to "threaten the safety" of the conference would be denied visas.

Chen Jian, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said only a "very small" number of organisations or people would be affected. However, the Chinese stance appears to violate the principles under which China was chosen to host the UN conference. Under these, any person accredited by the UN for the official conference on women, or correctly registered for the NGO Forum must be given a visa by Peking.

Most affected are gay and anti-abortion groups, pro-Tibet and pro-Taiwan activists and campaigners against forced labour and other Chinese human rights violations.

Among those hit are representatives of the US branch of Amnesty International. The tactics are the time-honoured ones of Communist regimes past and present, less a blunt rejection of a visa application than deliberate bureaucratic stalling to achieve the same result.

As the days slip away and the clamour mounts, all eyes are on the decision, perhaps as early as today, on whether Mrs Clinton will attend.

The First Lady, honorary chairman of the US delegation, is known to be desperately keen to take part in a conference devoted to causes she has long championed, but many politicians here - Democrats as well as Republicans - argue that her presence would confer tacit approval on China's policies, when it continues to hold jailed Chinese-American human rights activist Harry Wu, and when its relations with Washington are deeply strained.

Earlier this month the wife of Mr Wu personally appealed to the First Lady not to go. But other White House aides note that the conference is organised not by Peking but by the UN, and that there could be no more powerful platform for Mrs Clinton to speak out on causes with which she is identified, from health care to poverty and exploitation of women around the world.

Yesterday's comments by the Chinese, however, will accentuate the mistrust and confusion which is already overshadowing the meetings, and confirm suspicion that some of the "delays" may be politically motivated.

Ever since China abruptly shifted the NGO Forum to Huairou, more than 30 miles outside Peking, international women's groups have feared the Chinese planned to limit the number of NGO participants, and control the meeting.

Mr Chen admitted that there had been delays in issuing visas, but blamed this on the unexpectedly large number of delegates.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
musicReview: 1989's songs attempt to encapsulate dramatic emotional change in a few striking lines
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Sport
Phil Jones (left) attempts to stop the progress of West Bromwich Albion’s James Morrison on Monday
I'm not worried about United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Arts and Entertainment
Saw point: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Serena’
filmReview: Serena is a strangely dour and downbeat affair
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Datacentre Consultant (Infrastructure Consultant, HyperV) £45k

£45000 per annum: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Datacentre Consultant (Datacentre,...

English Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Randstad Education Cardiff is...

.NET Developer (C#, .NET, Support) - Coventry - £45k

£45000 per annum + Excellent Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: .NET Develope...

C# / ASP.NET Developer

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: C...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker