China sees red in Brown-Dalai meet

Beijing, May 24:

China today voiced strong opposition to a meeting between British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Dalai Lama, calling it interference in its internal affairs.

“The British side has refused to acknowledge our serious concerns,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement.

“This interferes in China’s internal affairs,” he 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.

The talks came after protests against China’s 57-year rule over Tibet broke out in March, a sensitive time in the run-up to the August Beijing Olympics.

Brown’s office said he held “warm and constructive” discussions with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader in a 30-minute meeting. The talks were the most contentious engagement in the 11-day visit to Britain of the Dalai Lama.

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

“The British government has many times expressed that it does not support Tibetan independence,” Qin said. “We urge the British side to implement its commitment with real actions and do more things that are beneficial to the long-term development of bilateral relations.”