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Chinese Christian repeats criticisms of Beijing government

by Hannah Tooley

He has spoken out during President Xi's state visit to the United States, criticising western officials' close ties to Beijing.

Gao Zhishneng, a Christian human rights lawyer, has been repeatedly in and out of detention in China since 2006.

In his first interview since 2010, he said in The Times that he has been tortured with an electric baton during his most recent imprisonment from 2010 to 2014, in Xinjiang in northwest China.

Mr Gao lives under constant watch from the authorities.

Earlier in the week George Osborne became the first British minister to travel to the area, a region which is becoming increasingly outspoken against state-led repression against religion and culture.

He was publically criticised by Amnesty International for not raising the case of 250 lawyers going missing in the country.

But Mr Osborne says he did raise the issue with the relevant authorities in private.

Mr Gao is also thought to have suffered torture on a previous number of occasions when he was detained for public dissent for defending members of an outlawed spiritual group.

President Xi told an audience in Seattle that China follows the rule of law , but Mr Gao says he has spent long time in unknown locations unable to make any contact with his family.

When he was released last summer, he was unable to walk properly or speak coherently.

"Every time we emerge from the prison alive, it is a defeat for our opponents," he told AP.

This week he re-joined the debate about whether western governments, eager to trade with China, ignore its poor human rights record.

"Western politicians have a long history of getting along with evil regimes for their own selfish and greedy ends," he wrote.

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