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War of words between China, Britain over Tibet issue

London-Beijing (PTI): Britain has asked China to hold “meaningful dialogue” with Tibetan communities over the human rights situation, including the self-immolations in the Himalayan region, inviting sharp reaction from Beijing which warned the UK not to interference in its internal affairs and not to damage bilateral ties “anymore”.

“We urge the Chinese authorities to exercise restraint. … We strongly support the resumption of meaningful dialogue to resolve the underlying grievances of Tibetan communities,” British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire said in London following a European Union statement on self-immolations in Tibet region.

“We strongly support the recent statement from Baroness Ashton (the EU’s ‘High Representative’ for foreign affairs) about the situation in Tibet. We continue to have serious concerns about the human rights situation there, including the self-immolations in Tibetan regions,” Swire said.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying lashed out at Britain for calling China to hold talks with Tibetan representatives saying that it amounted to interference in its internal affairs and asked London not damage Sino-British ties “anymore” as they had already been “impaired” by the British leaders meeting with the Dalai Lama.

“British side’s groundless attacks on the Tibet related issues which is a gross intervention in China’s internal affairs. China strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposed to it,” Hua said referring to concern expressed by Swire.

“As is known to all, China-Britain relations have been impaired due to British leader’s meetings with Dalai,” she said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Deputy Nick Clegg had met the Tibetan spiritual leader when he visited London in May this year, which prompted a senior Chinese Communist Party leader, Wu Bangguo to cancel his visit to UK.

“We ask the British side to seriously reflect on the wrong moves, take China’s position seriously and truly respect China’s sovereignty and do not do anything that will undermine China’s internal affairs and China-UK relations anymore,” Hua said.

China had responded with similar reactions over remarks by UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay and US officials about the grim situation in Tibet.

According to overseas Tibetan groups, 95 people have already committed self immolation in different parts of Tibet in the recent times calling for return of the Dalai Lama and protesting Chinese rule.

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