We welcome the fact that talks between the Chinese Government and representatives of the Dalai Lama have taken place.
It would be inappropriate for the UK to endorse positions taken by either side in negotiation.
We believe that progress depends on both sides continuing to engage in dialogue in good faith. This is the only way to bring about a lasting and peaceful solution to the problems in Tibet.
During my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's visit to China he raised the issue of Tibet with Premier Wen and Foreign Minister Yang. He expressed our continued concern at the situation in Tibet, including the heavy security presence, and restrictions on freedom of expression and religion. He welcomed the resumption of the talks between the Chinese authorities and representatives of the Dalai Lama but emphasised that the talks must be substantive to be successful.
Following his visit, the UK and China held a human rights dialogue. This was a further opportunity for us to raise our concerns about Tibet. In advance of the dialogue we have handed over a list of 42 cases, of concern, a number of which relate to Tibet, affecting 56 individuals.
In his work report of the Chinese Government to the National People's Congress, Premier Wen Jiabao said that the Chinese Government would build permanent housing for nomads. He also promised to “give high priority to protecting the cultural heritage of ethnic minorities and the ecosystems in ethnic minority areas”.
Staff at our embassy in Beijing have discussed the Government's policy of encouraging nomads to move to fixed settlements with local government representatives in Tibet, who justify it by the need to improve access to public services such as health and education and in order to protect fragile high-altitude grasslands from overgrazing.
Without free media coverage and transparent democratic governance there it is impossible for the Tibetan community to express its views on this policy.
We encourage the Chinese Government at every opportunity to promote the cultural rights of Tibetans and freedom of expression in Tibet.