China showing authoritarian tendencies in Tibet: British minister


London : British Foreign Office Minister Mark Malloch-Brown Sunday accused the Chinese government of harbouring “regrettable authoritarian tendencies” in spite of some improvements since the Tiananmen Square massacre.

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Lord Malloch-Brown said he was in Beijing a few days ago and noticed that all news of Tibet broadcast by international news channels such as CNN was “blacked out” in his hotel.

Such censorship, he told BBC Radio, was “not going to work” during the Olympic Games in August when thousands of international journalists would visit China expecting reporting freedoms that they were used to at home.

Asked if the situation in Tibet was similar to the one in Beijing in June 1989, when Chinese forces shot down pro-democracy students, intellectuals and labour activists, Malloch-Brown said that although there had been improvements since then in China, the events in Tibet showed there were “regrettable authoritarian tendencies in its polices”.

Calling for “restraint and dialogue”, the British minister said China does recognise that if it were to be a global player it “needs to bear the responsibility” of respect for human rights at home and abroad.

He warned that Beijing would “pay a terrible cost in terms of international opinion” if it cracked down on pro-independence demonstrators in Tibet.

Lord Malloch-Brown’s comments came after the leader of Britain’s third largest party urged Prime Minister Gordon Brown to meet the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of the Tibetans, when he comes to Britain May 21-22.

“He (Malloch-Brown) talks the talk of human rights around the world,” said Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg.

“We need to respect (Chinese) political sensitivities, but we cannot pull our punches,” he said in an interview.

In his statement, Clegg said: “Given the worrying reports of protests and violence in Tibet, the prime minister must urgently confirm that he will meet with and listen to the Dalai Lama and make the strongest possible representations to the Chinese government.”

“The Chinese government must understand that with the privilege of hosting the Olympic Games comes the responsibility of honouring the highest standards of human rights at home as well as abroad,” he added.

Clegg, a long time supporter of the Tibetan movement, said he would be meeting with the Dalai Lama.