So Hu Jintao is in the UK again, at this time at least it looks as if some protesters might actually be allowed to, well protest. Tony Blair has already been quoted as saying that people should be allowed to wear T-Shirts what with this being a free, democratic state and all. Well, duh. But then of course last time around when Jiang Zemin came in 1999, banners, flags and other protesting paraphernalia weren't allowed anywhere near the Chinese PM, prompting some telling questions about just how free British democracy was.
So perhaps it actually is some minor victory at a time when pretty much every other liberty seems to be being taken away that we are still allowed to protest against a state with a worse Human Rights record than our own. Even if, of course, the reason for the meeting between Blair and Jintao is purely economic rather than humanitarian.
Perhaps whilst Mr. Blair is scrabbling for those lucrative business deals, he might find time to push the human rights agenda too? All sarcasm aside, there probably isn't a better time to discuss it and the growing Chinese economy and willingness to be involved in the western world should go hand-in-hand with a growing acceptance of rights and responsibilities.
I very much doubt whether the protesters voices will be heard, even though those voices are accepted and not ushered to one side. But at least they serve as a reminder that all is not well in China, and whilst we should seek stronger economic ties with them in order to strengthen our own economy, it should not come at the cost of hypocrisy in casting aside our own moral and ethical standpoint.