The UK’s policy in Tibet in the last two years has been based on one factor: our concern for the human rights situation in Tibet. We believe that the current situation there does not respect fully Tibetans’ distinct culture, religion and languages. We believe that this can best be addressed through a meaningful system of autonomy, achieved through dialogue between the Chinese authorities and representatives of the Dalai Lama. Our concern for the human rights situation in Tibet is part of our broader policy of promoting respect for human rights globally.
The Government’s policy on the status of Tibet is set out in the written ministerial statement on Tibet of 29 October 2008, Official Report, columns 30-32WS: that we do not support Tibetan independence. Like every other EU member state, and the United States, we regard Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China. We have consistently made clear that we want to see the human rights of the Tibetan people respected, including through respect for their distinct culture, language and religions. We consider the position the Dalai Lama has stated publicly, that he opposes violence and is seeking meaningful autonomy within the framework of the Chinese constitution, provides a basis for a negotiated settlement.
We clarified our position in this way because our ability to get our points across on Tibet had sometimes been clouded by the position the UK took at the start of the 20th century on the status of Tibet. This had developed from the outdated concept of suzerainty. Our position as set out on 29 October allows us to speak unambiguously on the matter of Tibetan human rights.
The written ministerial statement on 29 October 2008, Official Report, columns 30-32WS, formally updated the UK’s position on Tibet. It made clear that like every other EU member state, and the United States, we regard Tibet to be a part of the People’s Republic of China. This is different from our earlier position, which spoke of the ‘special position’ of the Chinese authorities in Tibet, and was based on the historical concept of suzerainty. We have made clear our view that the position the Dalai Lama has stated publicly, that he is seeking meaningful autonomy within the framework of the Chinese constitution, provides a basis for a negotiated settlement to the problems of Tibet.