No 10 denies claims PM 'sidestepped' human rights during China visit

Downing Street has denied claims in the Chinese media that Theresa May "sidestepped" human rights during her three-day visit to the far eastern giant.

The Global Times applauded Mrs May for supposedly resisting "radical" pressure at home to raise concerns over the treatment of democracy protesters in Hong Kong, in order to focus on improving trade and investment links with the world's second largest economy.

But a senior Number 10 source insisted that Mrs May had raised the issue of Hong Kong - where more than 100 activists were detained in protests over alleged encroachment by Beijing on the former colony's partial autonomy - and broader human rights in her discussions with both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

An account of the talks with Xi released by Downing Street said that both leaders had restated their commitment to the "One Country Two Systems" arrangements in place since the UK handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997.

Theresa May visit to China - Day Two
Theresa May visit to China - Day Two

The Global Times, which is largely viewed as a mouthpiece for the Beijing regime, said in an editorial that Mrs May was right to resist "radical" pressure to highlight human rights concerns, and instead to confine herself to "enthusiastic and positive remarks about China".

"For the prime minister, the losses outweigh the gains if she appeases the British media at the cost of the visit's friendly atmosphere," said the newspaper. "China's robust development has instilled impetus for Europe to overcome its prejudices against Beijing."

Mrs May issued a call for gender equality in her address to business leaders in Shanghai on the last day of her trip.

In a speech to the UK-China Business Forum, the Prime Minister said: "The UK and China together have the capacity to play a huge role in advocating for gender equality. But all too often those good intentions don't lead to positive outcomes, and that's something we should all be working to tackle."

Theresa May visit to China - Day Two
Theresa May visit to China - Day Two