Moments after police dragged away a dissident's wife waiting to meet her, U.N. human rights chief Mary Robinson told China Wednesday that respect for rights and economic growth go hand in hand.
Plainclothes police and hotel security grabbed Chu Hailan as she stood quietly outside the entrance to a swanky Beijing hotel waiting to ask Robinson's help in seeking freedom for her jailed, ailing dissident husband."I want to see Miss Mary," Chu Hailan screamed as she was pulled through the Hilton Hotel lobby.
Chu later said in a telephone interview that plainclothes police beat her on the head and stomach while in the hotel. She was then taken to a local police station. She was released Wednesday afternoon, eight hours after being hauled away.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao claimed Chu had been blocking the entrance to the hotel and disturbing order. Police and hotel executives refused to comment.
Robinson later said she spoke to Assistant Foreign Minister Wang Guangya about Chu and was assured she was released. "I know her concerns are very serious concerns," she said.
The police action threatened to muddy the careful path both Robinson and Chinese leaders hoped her 10-day visit would take. It is the first official mission to China by a U.N. high commissioner for human rights, and both sides want it to end the confrontation between China and U.N. groups on human rights.
The U.N. Human Rights Commission, which sets policies for Robinson's office, has annually aired criticisms of China's treatment of dissidents and pro-independence Tibetans.
"China can be commended for efforts to eliminate poverty and to meet the basic needs of all," Robinson said in her speech, acknowledging China's position that economic development takes precedence over political rights.
But, she added, the "right to development" is based on "respect for all human rights."
Without elaborating, Robinson later told reporters she brought "a number of concerns" raised by U.N. human rights teams that have visited China to the attention of Chinese officials.
A diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.N. groups investigating torture, arbitrary detention and religion have recommended changes to Chinese officials.
Robinson has pressed Chinese officials on when they will meet a six-month-old pledge to sign the U.N. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a key human rights treaty.