message to the Chinese government, against trying to influence British foreign policy, while responding to recent comments about the UK’s stand on the Tibet issue.
According to the Daily Mail, a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said “We have made clear in advance to the Chinese government that British ministers will decide who they meet and where they meet them” and that “‘It is entirely reasonable for the Prime Minister to decide who he meets and it reflects our approach of dialogue, discussion and gathering a wide range of viewpoints on an issue of importance.”
China had warned Britain that it would withhold investment, amounting to billions of pounds, if steps were not taken to ease the diplomatic tensions that had built up between the two countries.
The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called China “one of the great economic superpowers of today”, but stressed that China’s economic power did not mean that Britain “would somehow give up on what we believe in when it comes to human rights and freedoms”.
Earlier, the Chinese reaction had also angered British politicians, who saw it as interference on British sovereignty. According to the BBC, Fabian Hamilton, a Labour MP and chairman of the all parliamentary group for Tibet in the House of Commons was quoted as saying that he found it distasteful that representatives of a country “whose human rights record is appalling, where freedom of speech is not allowed and there is no real democracy, tell our elected officials…… what they think is best, under pain of economic sanction”.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman had demanded that the British “take immediate measures to remove the Tibetan influence, so as to restore China-UK relations with concrete actions”, adding that the responsibility lay on the “British side”.
The Chinese government had called on the Prime Minister to apologize for having met His Holiness the Dalai Lama in May, 2012.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama was visiting the United Kingdom to receive the prestigious Templeton Prize, when he met with Prime Minister Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Downing Street had earlier stated that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was an “important religious figure” and that he had met many previous British Prime Ministers.