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UK Minister of State visits Tibet PDF Print E-mail
[17 September 2009] Following a brief visit to Tibet and talks in Beijing, Ivan Lewis called for "greater autonomy" and "respect for human rights", emphasising the need for dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama's envoys, in a Beijing press conference dominated by the issue of Tibet.
Minister of State Ivan Lewis visited China from 7-10 September, and made the first ever trip to Tibet by a British government member, 18 months after an internationally-criticised Chinese crackdown in Tibet.

"This is a historic visit," he was quoted as saying by an FCO statement, adding that it was in the context of "our decision to change UK policy, and the significant international concern following the events in March 2008."

"We recognise Tibet as an autonomous region of China ... But long-term stability can only be achieved through respect for human rights and greater autonomy," he said.

"This depends on substantive dialogue between the Chinese government and the representatives of (exiled Tibetan leader) the Dalai Lama. China has said all matters except independence can be discussed. But its position has hardened.

"I urged them to reiterate the earlier position," he said.

In Tibet, Lewis notably met the chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region and the Drepung Monastery, while in Beijing he discussed the situation there with the vice minister of the United Front Work Department.

Prior to the Minister's visit he was briefed by several organisations, including Tibet Society, regarding human rights in China and Tibet and the current political situation.
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