|Phayul[Wednesday, May 08, 2013 19:50]|
The Downing Street has made it clear that ministers “will decide who they meet and where they meet them” while admitting that they have had difficulties arranging meetings with senior figures in the Chinese government as a result of the stand-off.
According to reports, PM Cameron still has his plans intact for a visit to China before the end of this year.
“On a general point the Chinese government always lobbies hard against any meetings between foreign governments and the Dalai Lama,” a spokesman for the Downing Street has been quoted as saying by reporters. “We have made clear in advance to the Chinese government that British ministers will decide who they meet and when they meet them."
The spokesman added that PM Cameron “does not feel under any pressure to apologise” to the Chinese government.
Richard Ottaway, chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee, said that the British PM should “resist” any pressure from Beijing.
“We are right to resist external pressures,” he told the London Evening Standard. “The Dalai Lama has always been welcome in Britain and I hope it remains that way. I think this will quickly blow over and investment will flow both ways.”
PM Cameron had met the Dalai Lama in London alongside Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, as part of the Government's approach of seeking "dialogue and discussion and gathering a wide range of viewpoints on issues of importance."
Clegg has made clear that he is not willing to put concerns over human rights to one side because of China's growing economic clout.
“We have a very important relationship with the Chinese authorities,” he told Sky News. “It's, self-evidently, one of the great economic superpowers of today and particularly the future. We have a very important economic relationship with them.
“But that doesn't mean we should somehow give up on what we believe in when it comes to human rights and freedoms which we will continue to express in a respectful but nonetheless firm way.”
Following last year’s meeting, a visit by the British PM to China last autumn was called off and a trade trip planned for last month was also cancelled.
However, despite the diplomatic row lasting for over 12 months now, Chinese investment in the UK saw a four-fold increase, to the tune of $8 billion, in 2012.
Also, UK exports to China grew by 13.4 per cent last year, which is more growth than any of our European partners.