Britain summons Chinese envoy

2009-12-29 14:43

London - Britain summoned China's ambassador in London to the Foreign Office on Tuesday to protest the execution of a Briton despite repeated appeals for clemency, a foreign office spokesperson said.

"She has been summoned," said the spokesperson, referring to ambassador Fu Ying, adding that Britain would "reiterate" to her its condemnation of the execution of Akmal Shaikh, who supporters say had bipolar disorder.

She declined to elaborate, but it was understood that the Chinese envoy was expected at the Foreign Office imminently.

The diplomatic action came after Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was "appalled and disappointed" that China ignored repeated appeals to show mercy on Shaikh, a 53-year-old father of three, for drug smuggling.

Foreign Office minister Ivan Lewis, who had called in the Chinese ambassador on Monday night to make a last-ditch appeal for clemency, reiterated London's charge that Shaikh's medical condition was not taken into account.

"They never allowed a medical assessment to be done of him in the run-up to the decision to execute him. That is the bit that most causes us offence, in terms of the relationship between our two countries.

"China needs to understand it will only ever achieve full respect around the world when it subscribes to basic standards of human rights," he told Sky News television.

"As long as that is not the case, that will always affect the perception of many people around the world of China and its place in the world," he added.