Letters: Shocking response to protests at Chinese visit

The following letters appear in the 24 October edition of The Independent

Independent Voices@IndyVoices
Friday 23 October 2015 18:03
Tiananmen Square survivor Shao Jiang was arrested in the street road for holding up protest banners in Central London
Tiananmen Square survivor Shao Jiang was arrested in the street road for holding up protest banners in Central London

I was profoundly shocked to read of the response of the Metropolitan Police and of Chinese embassy officials to the protests against the visit of President Xi Jinping, as described by Jamie Merrill and David Connett (“Police raid Tiananmen survivor’s home”, 23 October), and by Carole Beavis in her letter.

The arrests of Shao Jiang, Sonam Choden and Jamphel Lhamo are completely unacceptable.

I congratulate you on your coverage of this story, and I urge you to continue to follow it up; I hope to read that the Metropolitan Police or the Home Secretary or the Mayor of London will instigate a full, impartial and independent inquiry into the actions both of police and Chinese embassy officials. The Government must show that suppression of peaceful protest will not be tolerated.

John Dakin
Toddington, Bedfordshire

I am delighted that Wei-Ling Chang (letter, 22 October) feels free to be offended by the Speaker’s “welcome” to the President of China. It was reported freely in the UK.

I doubt that “millions in China” will be offended, since elsewhere in your paper it is reported that the Speaker’s welcome was only partially (and selectively) broadcast, so fortunately John Bercow will be spared the indignity of being described as “a little man” (even though some of his own party regard him as such).

I wonder if Wei-Ling Chang realises that the Chinese media are not free to report even putative criticism of their leaders from abroad, so “Li” or the concept of propriety doesn’t even apply; the “discourteous” remarks won’t have a chance of being reported.

D J Walker
Macclesfield, Cheshire

I note that David Cameron bought President Xi a pint of Greene King IPA in a pub near Chequers on Thursday evening.

Perhaps in sharing a pint of India Pale Ale, originally brewed, at least in part, for consumption in India when it was part of the Empire, a point was being made about imperial ambitions. Particularly as the Greene King version is somewhat lower in strength and underpowered in hoppiness compared with traditional versions of the beer.

Keith Flett
London N17

Tory scum” is a pathetic chant because it has no real content, and demonstrators can simply be dismissed as political extremists. But, following the Chinese takeover, “Tory traitors” is perfectly valid. Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Wellington and all the other patriotic Conservative Prime Ministers who fought for this country must be spinning in their graves.

Peter Brooker
West Wickham, Kent

The Conservative Party is now a threat to our national security (Chinese control of future atomic energy), our economic security (failure to control the bankers) and our family security (reduction of tax credits for hard-working people). Mr Cameron himself said that this combination should make us “afraid”.

John Myhill

Only an English parliament will do

The drive to legislate on “English Votes for English Laws” is likely to end in confusion and acrimony. The obvious solution, particularly in view of the Government’s desire to devolve power to the cities and the regions, would be to have an English Parliament, elected on a form of PR.

We could then create a federal system with real devolution, which is the best chance of keeping the Scots within the Union, and also allow for the much-needed reduction in the number of MPs in the Commons. The Lords could be abolished with the four national parliaments/assemblies taking over its current role in scrutinising bills put forward by the Commons.

Mike Jenkins
Bromley, Kent

English Votes for English Laws is a thoroughly bad idea. It will merely entrench still further the hybrid and confused constitutional arrangements we now have.

In logic there are only two possible options to resolve the present quagmire. One is to go back to the unitary state arrangements which existed before devolution: the other is to work towards a truly federal settlement. The first of course would lead to the rapid departure of Scotland from the UK, so we are left with the second, federalism.

Actually the so-called British constitution has been crying out for revision for years – with the widely perceived anachronism of the House of Lords and our unsatisfactory voting system under increasingly heavy and sustained criticism. Work on all this needs starting now.

The Rev Andrew McLuskey
Staines, Middlesex

Corbyn’s betrayal of Labour hopes

John Mitchell has clearly not been listening closely enough to what has been going on in the Labour Party if he has “yet to see any turmoil other than in the Tory party” (Letter, 22 November) .

It has become increasingly apparent that most Labour MPs do not support the Corbyn leadership. Apart from those refusing to serve in his Shadow Cabinet, one only has to look at the glum faces and muted reactions on the Labour benches at his ineffectual performances at Prime Minister’s Questions.

The Shadow Cabinet is deeply divided over a number of issues, most obviously Trident. Corbyn’s shadow Chancellor’s first public act was to commit a U-turn over the charter for budgetary responsibility and consequently provoke a backbench rebellion. John McDonnell must have the singular distinction of being the only MP to start his frontbench career with repeated exclamations of his embarrassment at his own confusion, to howls of derision from the Tory front bench and obvious discomfort within the Labour ranks. If that doesn’t constitute turmoil, I don’t know what does.

And may I correct one further misapprehension of Mr Mitchell? The public did not elect Corbyn. A narrow and unrepresentative sliver of the electorate, clearly relishing the opportunity to put one over the Westminster elite, elected him to a position which he is using to reduce the Labour Party to total irrelevance. For those of us who want to see the Tories out of office to be replaced by a more humane administration, this represents absolute betrayal. As it is, the Tories can’t believe their good fortune.

David Burgess
Little Bardfield, Essex

Doctors’ dispute is about trust

The Health Secretary has said that the British Medical Association is misleading junior doctors about their new contracts. The essence of the dispute is one of trust. What Jeremy Hunt fails to recognise is that every junior doctor in the country has experienced working on a rota where the workload and responsibility far exceed the hours recorded and paid for.

We battle to take our entitlement of annual leave, to finish work on time, and are unsupported when we protest. We know from bitter experience that the NHS is creaking in its shortage of doctors, and that without safeguards entrenched in the contract, managers will not protect our working conditions.

This is why vague reassurances that our pay will not be diminished, and our hours not made significantly more antisocial, fall on deaf ears.

Dr Katie Musgrave
Loddiswell, Devon

The interesting Dr Fu Manchu

Phil Baker is rather generous towards Sax Rohmer in absolving him of extreme racism in the creation of Fu Manchu (“You shall hear from me again”, 21 October). While Fu Manchu may be the most interesting and powerful figure in that thriller series, it is by no means unusual for this to be true of the villain in many stories, whether in print or on screen.

The positive qualities that Baker discerns in Fu Manchu (and which Rohmer presumably wanted his readership to notice) are where the Chinese is displaying characteristics supposedly to be found in a Westerner, particularly Englishmen. In other words, he’s less representative of his race and culture, rather like the black master criminal in the Father Brown story who “has the brains of a European, with the instincts of a cannibal”.

Bryn Hughes

Why not give us paper bags?

Why are we customers punished by making us pay 5p per plastic bag in any shop? Why not give us recycled or recyclable paper bags instead? They tell us the 5p goes to a charity, but we are not informed about which charity nor given a choice. I suggest we all boycott plastic bags and demand a good alternative.

Maria Donapetry

Man with too much money

Roger Knight (letter, 22 October) has a very simple solution for his “surplus” cash: give it to charity.

Isabel Keighley
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

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