Page last updated at 05:56 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 06:56 UK

Attack on human rights 'silence'

View of Chongqing
Chongqing is an economic powerhouse with 31m people

Alleged human rights abuses in China risk tacit approval by the Welsh Assembly Government, according to human rights campaigners.

Amnesty International has accused the assembly government of staying silent on human rights issues during visits.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan signed a trade and culture agreement with authorities when he visited in March.

The assembly government said it was the UK government that dealt with foreign relation issues.

Mr Morgan signed the agreement with authorities in Chongqing when he visited in the spring of this year.

He has also signed a memorandum of understanding to promote trade and cultural links but has consistently said foreign relations are the responsibility of the UK Government.

Amnesty International say families are forced to leave their homes and relocate because of the pressure on land caused by rapid economic growth in the region.

They also say there is discrimination against migrant workers, and freedom of expression is limited.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan
First Minister Rhodri Morgan has been urged to speak out

"We risk giving tacit approval to abuses if matters of human rights are not raised," said Cathy Owens, Amnesty International programme director for Wales.

"I would argue that as trade relations is a devolved matter, the assembly ministers have a duty to consider who we trade with, and how we trade with them."

Amnesty International say they have 10 key concerns about human rights in China.

Among them are the use of the death penalty, the trial system in China, and restrictions to media freedom.

In a statement a spokesperson for the Welsh Assembly Government said: "Amnesty International has never written to us to desist from our twinning relationship with the municipality of Chongqing, which has 31 million people.

"The question of whether to engage with China or ignore China is one that people in politics and business in the Western world have pondered for over 50 years now."

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