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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Rudd raises Tibet concerns with Chinese Premier

April 11, 2008

Thu Apr 10, 2008
AFP/ABC

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has raised the issue of Tibet in talks with
the Chinese Premier, but says Wen Jiabao's private position was no
different to

that stated publicly by the Chinese Government.

Mr Rudd has described the talks in Beijing as a "good and solid" discussion.

Mr Rudd inspected an honour guard of the Chinese armed forces at the
Great Hall of the People before beginning the talks with Mr Wen and after

emerging from their meeting they said the two countries would aim for a
stronger relationship.

The leaders have agreed to set up a new ministerial level dialogue to
work on climate change policy and will restart negotiations on a Free Trade

Agreement.

He says he and Mr Wen have agreed that Australia and China should work
more closely together on climate change issues like clean coal.

"What I am looking for through this new bilateral ministerial level
partnership with China is to elevate considerably the intensity of our
technical and

scientific and commercial co-operation in the area of clean coal
technology," he said.

Tibet

Mr Rudd says the strength of Australia's relationship with China allowed
him to raise the issue of Tibet.

"It's important to embrace this relationship for all the strength it
contains, recognise that we can expand it further into the future, and
recognise as

well that we need to deal in a frank and straightforward way, with
disagreements as they arise, as I've done today," he said.

"The position of the Australian Government is that there are significant
human rights problems in Tibet which require resolution through, number
one,

non-violent approaches, and two, through dialogue.

"Furthermore, we would want and hope and expect to see further progress
on these issues in the period ahead."

Earlier, he said a true friend should be able to raise those concerns
and still be able to talk about other issues, like trade and climate change.

Mr Rudd said he also spoke about the Dalai Lama.

He refused to characterise Mr Wen's response to his comments, but said
the Chinese Premier remained consistent with Beijing's earlier publicly
stated

position on talks with the Dalai Lama.

For more than five years, China has said it would hold dialogue with the
Dalai Lama only after the Buddhist leader renounced activities advocating

Tibetan independence.

It was the first meeting between the two men since Mr Rudd became Prime
Minister.

No mention

Foreign governments have no right to interfere in China's internal
affairs, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in response to Mr Rudd's
comments on

human rights in Tibet.

"The Tibetan affairs are purely China's internal affairs, and none of
the foreign governments or groups have the right to interfere in that,"
Foreign

Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters.

Meanwhile, the Chinese state-run press virtually ignored Mr Rudd's
comments about human rights problems in Tibet, while lavishing praise on
his

knowledge of China.

"Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd enthralled his audience at Peking
University with an intimate grasp of China affairs and a thorough

understanding of global politics yesterday," the China Daily wrote.

The English-language newspaper highlighted a quote from Mr Rudd
expressing his opposition to a boycott of the Olympic Games, without
mentioning

Tibet.

The People's Daily, the Communist Party's main mouthpiece, also reported
on Rudd's support for the Olympics, while the Beijing Youth Daily

highlighted his humorous quips.

Most papers also reported on Mr Rudd's fluent Mandarin skills and the
fact he delivered his speech in Chinese.

But none of the major newspapers mentioned Rudd's more controversial
comments on Tibet.
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