China angry as MP quizzes Dalai Lama over Tibet riots
PUBLISHED: 17:33 11 June 2008 | UPDATED: 09:37 12 August 2010
2008 Getty Images
THE Chinese government is furious with an MP after he met the Dalai Lama. Orpington Conservative MP John Horam consulted the spiritual and political leader of Tibet in Lambeth Palace last month as part of his membership of the Foreign Affairs Select C
THE Chinese government is "furious" with an MP after he met the Dalai Lama.
Orpington Conservative MP John Horam consulted the spiritual and political leader of Tibet in Lambeth Palace last month as part of his membership of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. But the Chinese Embassy was furious that the MP interviewed the Buddhist leader about the riots which rocked the border between Tibet and China last March.
Mr Horam said: "The Dalai Lama wants an independent inspection of what happened in Tibet because he admitted he didn't know how many people had been killed in the riots.
"I got a furious letter from the Chinese Embassy. They said when he was questioned he admitted he did not know what happened in the riots. They shot themselves in the foot.
"Media are not allowed into the whole of Tibet, so it is difficult to get a balanced perspective.
"China, as we know, is not a democratic country. We don't know to what extent it clamps down on rioters.
"They said the Dalai Lama hadn't been there for 50 years. They were furious we had interviewed him at all.
"The Foreign Affairs Select Committee has been to China and to Tibet. Every year, we have a report on human rights around the world. It is to ensure our government is doing what it can to protect human rights.
"We want to see the Prime Minister back us on the independent inspection on the riots."
On the Dalai Lama, Mr Horam added: "He is a shrewd old chap and is full of charm. He has good diplomatic skills. I am sure a lifetime in international diplomacy had made him adept at questions.
"I asked him a question about whether he was disappointed with Gordon Brown for not meeting him at Number 10.
"He said he would be happy seeing him anywhere.
"The fact that Gordon Brown hasn't seen him at Number 10 shows he was trying to keep the Chinese onside, obviously for trade reasons.
"We were disappointed by that. John Major met him at Number 10 and George Bush met him at the White House."
Mr Horam is now penning his response to the Chinese Embassy.
A spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "The meeting at Lambeth Palace highlights the status of the Dalai Lama as a respected spiritual leader."
Representatives of the exiled Dalai Lama were due to meet Chinese government officials in Beijing yesterday.