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Last Updated: Monday, 17 March 2008, 16:07 GMT
MSP urged to postpone China trip
Fiona Hyslop
Tavish Scott said Ms Hyslop should delay her ministerial visit
Education secretary Fiona Hyslop has come under pressure to cancel a planned ministerial trip to China in light of the unrest in Tibet.

Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott said Ms Hyslop should abandon plans for the visit until the crisis there is resolved.

However, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said Ms Hyslop still intended to make her trip, which concerns educational matters.

The most recent protests broke out in Tibet last Monday.

Buddhist monks, then other Tibetans, took to the streets to mark the 49th anniversary of the 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.

We cannot turn a blind eye while pro-democracy campaigners are being brutally attacked by government forces
Tavish Scott MSP

Human rights observers have condemned the violence used by authorities to crack down on protestors.

The Tibetan government in exile said 80 protestors had been killed in the capital, Lhasa, in the last week.

Mr Scott, who described the situation as "distressing" has written to the minister, asking her to reconsider in order to send a signal to the Chinese government.

He said: "These are not normal times and normal plans cannot just go ahead.

"I urge Fiona Hyslop to make a stand and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

"It cannot be right for the international community to go as if nothing is happening. We cannot turn a blind eye while pro-democracy campaigners are being brutally attacked by government forces."

'Serious concerns'

Ms Hyslop announced the plans for her visit earlier this month, claiming she wanted to build on educational and research links between Scotland and China.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government confirmed Ms Hyslop planned to visit China from April 5-12.

"The Scottish Government has worked to develop a relationship with China in recent times since the publication of our first China Plan," she said.

Though she said the government had serious concerns about human rights in Tibet, it believed it was better to engage with authorities rather than boycott China.

"The Scottish Government stresses human rights concerns in all meetings with the Chinese authorities, and intends to continue doing so in relation to the cabinet secretary's engagements next month," she added.

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