Angry China terms Rudd’s Tibet comments unfounded

April 9th, 2008 - 5:10 pm ICT by admin  

Beijing, Apr.9 (ANI): An angry Chinese Government today termed Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s blunt message that there are significant human rights problems in Tibet as “totally unfounded”.
Tibetan Regional Government chairman Xiangba Puncog later told a press conference here that the comments were “totally unfounded”.
“Australia, or other countries, should have better appreciation and understanding of the fact that people in Tibet are now enjoying democracy and have wonderful human rights protection. Those remarks are totally unfounded,” quoted Puncog, as saying.
Speaking in Mandarin to hundreds of students at Peking University, Rudd said Australians were concerned about the situation in Tibet, where Chinese forces have mounted a bloody crackdown on dissidents.
Rudd said all parties needed to find a peaceful solution and called for Chinese officials to talk directly with the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader.
He vowed to raise his concerns directly with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao when they meet at the Great Hall of the People on Thursday.
“Australia, like most other countries, recognises China’s sovereignty over Tibet,” Mr Rudd told the students at Peking University, hours after arriving in Beijing.
“But we also believe it is necessary to recognise there are significant human rights problem in Tibet. The current situation in Tibet is of concern to Australians. We recognise the need for all parties to avoid violence and find a solution through dialogue. As a long-standing friend of China, I intend to have a straightforward discussion with China’s leaders on this,” Rudd said.
“You have a relationship which is capable of handling disagreement and putting views in a straightforward fashion. That’s what I said I’d be doing in my remarks earlier today and that’s what I will be doing. I stand by the comments I made earlier on this matter,” Rudd added.
Rudd has also risked angering China by backing the right of protesters to target the Olympic torch relay, which will arrive in Canberra on April 24.
“People can express their view in whatever way they want … I’m sure people will make their own call on that,” Rudd said in Beijing.
Chinese officials had already raised Mr Rudd’s earlier comments on Tibet with Australian ambassador Geoff Raby in Beijing, and in Canberra, Chinese ambassador Zhang Junsai conveyed the protest to an Australian foreign affairs official.
However, a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) spokesman said no formal written complaint had been lodged.
Rudd said relations with China would always be complex.
Despite his comments on Tibet, the university students gave Rudd a warm reception, praising his command of their language.
Rudd won the students over with a number of jokes, including one about his study of Chinese calligraphy during his days at the Australian National University.
Rudd was due to speak to business leaders at a financial services lunch and attend a cultural exhibition tonight. (ANI)

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