Locke says govt cannot sign FTA

NewsTalk ZB (Auckland)

Locke says govt cannot sign FTA

16/03/2008

A Green MP says New Zealand cannot sign a free trade agreement with China while it continues to suppress Tibetan people. Ten civilians are reported dead, although the Tibetan government-in-exile puts the figure at more than 100, following violent clashes between Chinese authorities and Tibetan independence protesters. Tensions between the two have been escalating all week since the 49th anniversary of a failed upraising against China’s rule.

Keith Locke says it is important the Prime Minister speaks up now, as the situation continues to deteriorate. He says the country must take a clear stance against oppression before signing a free trade agreement with China next month. He says the government needs to to stand up for the people of Tibet. He believes there is no way the country can stay silent, as it will mean signing the deal over the dead bodies of Tibetan monks.

Helen Clark is expected to formalise the agreement when she visits Beijing next month.

Meanwhile the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is warning against any non-essential travel to Tibet. New Zealand citizens currently in the capital Lhasa are advised to avoid areas where protests and riots are taking place, and are being told to consider departing the city when it is safe to do so.

source: NewsTalk ZB