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article imageUK foreign secretary met human rights figures on China visit

By AFP     Jul 31, 2018 in World

Britain's new foreign minister Jeremy Hunt met Chinese human rights figures while in Beijing on his first major international trip, the wife of a detained lawyer said Tuesday.

Visiting leaders often shun meetings with activists or their relatives during trips to China -- a decision which critics say is motivated by fear that scolding Beijing could harm trade prospects.

Li Wenzu wrote on Twitter that she met Hunt and British ambassador Barbara Woodward on Monday to discuss her husband Wang Quanzhang, who represented political activists and disappeared in a 2015 police sweep.

He has been charged with "subversion of state power".

In April Li attempted to march 100 kilometres (60 miles) to a detention facility to highlight her husband's plight.

She posted a photo that showed Hunt and Woodward alongside a group of women whose husbands have been detained, as well as human rights lawyer Wang Yu.

"I explained the situation of Wang Quanzhang's three-year disappearance and the latest developments in detail to the minister and the ambassador," Li said.

"The minister expressed his sincere interest in our difficult experiences," she added, thanking the British government for its continued interest in the lawyers detained on July 9, 2015.

More than 200 human rights lawyers and activists were detained or questioned that day, during the largest clampdown on the legal profession in recent history.

While most were released on bail, a handful were convicted of various crimes and sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

Wang is the last person in the so-called 709 crackdown to remain in legal limbo and no trial date has been set for him.

The British embassy confirmed Hunt's presence but declined to comment on what a spokeswoman described as a private meeting.

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