China slams Dalai Lama-UK meeting


AFP

BEIJING — China on Saturday voiced strong opposition to a meeting between British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Tibetan exiled leader the Dalai Lama, calling it interference in its internal affairs.

“The British side has refused to acknowledge our serious concerns and … arranged a meeting with Brown and other politicians,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“This interferes in China’s internal affairs,” it said. “The Chinese side expresses its strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to this.”

During the Friday meeting, Brown pledged Britain’s support for rapprochement between Tibet and China after Beijing held talks with envoys of the Dalai Lama.

Brown’s office said he held “warm and constructive” discussions with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader in a 30-minute meeting at Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s official residence in London.

The talks were the most contentious engagement of the Dalai Lama’s 11-day visit to Britain.

Brown, who is keen to boost trade and other links with China, faced domestic criticism for not receiving him in the prime minister’s Downing Street office, as his predecessors Tony Blair and John Major did.

Protests against China’s 57-year rule over Tibet broke out in March, a sensitive time in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

Exiled Tibetan leaders say 203 people died in the Chinese crackdown on the demonstrations. China says it acted with restraint and killed no one, while blaming Tibetan “rioters” for the deaths of 21 people. China, which accuses the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner of fomenting unrest in the Himalayan region, has previously said it was “seriously concerned” about the meeting with Brown.

China’s clampdown has triggered international outrage, with major protests disrupting the Beijing Olympic torch relay in London and Paris.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since 1959 when he fled an aborted uprising in Lhasa.