The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton Deane (Mr Browne), raised our concerns about the increasing number of self-immolations in Tibetan areas with the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister in Beijing earlier this month.
We are seriously concerned about recent reports that young monks and nuns in Tibetan areas of Szechuan province have immolated themselves. As I said, we have taken that up with the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, and with the Chinese embassy in London. We encourage, of course, the resolution of grievances that have led to that situation. We will continue to encourage the Chinese Government to take that constructive approach.
As the Chinese Government have been able to recognise and respect the autonomy of both Hong Kong and Macau in the People’s Republic, should they not allow autonomy for Tibet, to ensure that, within the People’s Republic, its unique culture and identity are properly respected and recognised, and will the Government try to encourage it to do so?
My right hon. and learned Friend makes a very fair point indeed. As he knows, we recognise Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China, but we call for meaningful dialogue between the representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese authorities in the interests of autonomy in future. Of course, we always call for respect for human rights.
I am sure that the Foreign Secretary welcomed China’s recent recognition of the aspirations and rightful demands of the Syrian people. Does he think that that is a positive development, as China may be beginning to realise that repression does not deliver genuine stability, and it should have the confidence to recognise the aspirations and rightful demands of the Tibetan people, too?
Such language is positive and I continue to believe, as I said in the House yesterday, that the veto of our proposed UN resolution on Syria by Russia and China was a mistake and did not take into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria. On the question of Tibet, we encourage the meaningful dialogue of which I spoke a moment ago.