UK Politics

China and Tibet: Cameron says UK policy has not changed

Dalai Lama meets David Cameron and Nick Clegg
Image caption David Cameron and Nick Clegg met the Dalai Lama at St Paul's Cathedral in May 2012

David Cameron has said the UK continues to recognise Chinese sovereignty over Tibet amid reports of a rift with Beijing over the issue.

The Chinese authorities are said to be angry at the prime minister's decision to meet the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, last year.

Mr Cameron told MPs that UK policy had not changed and it did not support calls for independence for Tibet.

He said he was seeking a "strong and positive" relationship with China.

The prime minister met the exiled Buddhist leader - who has called for a measure of independence for Tibet - when he visited the UK a year ago to accept an award.

At the time, No 10 defended the PM's right to meet whomever he wants and said the meeting had been arranged to engage in "dialogue and discussion and gather a wide range of viewpoints on issues of importance".

'Mutual benefit'

China halted ministerial meetings with UK counterparts as a result and it was reported recently that Mr Cameron had effectively been barred from visiting the country - claims No 10 has denied.

Asked in the House of Commons about the status of Sino-British relations, Mr Cameron said the two governments planned to work "very closely together" in the future.

"Let us be absolutely clear: this government has not changed the long-standing British policy towards China and China and Tibet," he added.

"We do want to have a strong and positive relationship with China, which I believe is in our mutual benefit.

"The Chinese government is aware of our policy on Tibet. We recognise Tibet as part of China. We do not support Tibetan independence and we respect China's sovereignty."

No 10 has said Mr Cameron hopes to visit China later this year but has not given any specific details.

The Chinese authorities oppose contacts between the Dalai Lama and foreign governments but he has met a host of world leaders, including President Obama, in recent years.

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