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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

UK states its position on Tibet

November 3, 2008

Phayul
October 31, 2008

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Tibet

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David
Miliband): A new round of talks on Tibet between the Chinese
Government and representatives of the Dalai Lama is likely to take
place shortly. These talks are hugely important for the future of
Tibet. They provide the only forum in which there is any realistic
possibility of progress to resolve the differences between the
parties involved.

The Chinese Government have said that they are serious about dialogue
and that they hope for a positive outcome. They have set conditions
for dialogue that we believe the Dalai Lama has met. The Dalai Lama
has made clear that he is not seeking separation or independence. He
has said repeatedly that he is seeking a resolution to the situation
of Tibet within the framework of the Chinese constitution, a point he
made explicitly in an interview with the Financial Times on 24 May
during his visit to the United Kingdom. He said: he was "not seeking
separation, not seeking independence, but within the framework of the
Chinese constitution, meaningful realistic autonomy [for Tibetans]".
He has maintained a clear opposition to violence.

The British Government have a strong interest in the dialogue between
the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama's representatives, although
we are not party to it. No Government that are committed to promoting
international respect for human rights can remain silent on the issue
of Tibet, or disinterested in a solution to its problems.

Britain has been clear under this Government about their commitment
to the people of Tibet. We remain deeply concerned about the human
rights situation there. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister set
out our concerns to Premier Wen during discussions in the spring and
again when they met in Beijing during the Olympic games. I have made
the same point to Foreign Minister Yang on a number of occasions
since the unrest in March this year in Tibet. We have consistently
made clear that we want to see the human rights of the Tibetan people
respected, including through respect for their distinct culture,
language, traditions and religions. Our interest is not in restoring
an order that existed 60 years ago and that the Dalai Lama himself
has said he does not seek to restore.

We are also concerned about more immediate issues arising directly
from the unrest of this spring, including the situation of those who
remain in detention following the unrest, the increased constraints
on religious activity, and the limitations on free access to the
Tibetan autonomous region by diplomats and journalists. These issues
reinforce long-held unease on the part of the Government about the
underlying human rights situation in Tibet.

Other countries have made similar points. But our position is unusual
for one reason of history that has been imported into the present:
the anachronism of our formal position on whether Tibet is part of
China, and whether in fact we harbour continued designs to see the
break-up of China. We do not.

Our ability to get our points across has sometimes been clouded by
the position the UK took at the start of the 20th century on the
status of Tibet, a position based on the geopolitics of the time. Our
recognition of China's "special position" in Tibet developed from the
outdated concept of suzerainty. Some have used this to cast doubt on
the aims we are pursuing and to claim that we are denying Chinese
sovereignty over a large part of its own territory. We have made
clear to the Chinese Government, and publicly, that we do not support
Tibetan independence. Like every other EU member state, and the
United States, we regard Tibet as part of the People's Republic of
China. Our interest is in long-term stability, which can only be
achieved through respect for human rights and greater autonomy for
the Tibetans.

We have noted recent comments by the Dalai Lama regretting the lack
of progress in the dialogue so far. We are also aware of indications
of growing frustration among some Tibetans about the dialogue
process. We consider the position the Dalai Lama has stated publicly,
including when he visited Britain this year, that he opposes violence
and is seeking meaningful autonomy within the framework of the
Chinese constitution, provides a basis for a negotiated settlement.
Our strong view is that genuine progress at the next round of talks
is essential to promote progress on such a settlement. Participation
in these talks carries a weight of responsibility for both parties.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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