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PM: Parliamentary Notice of Motion re Tibet

18 March 2008 Media Statement

Parliamentary Notice of Motion re Tibet

Prime Minister Helen Clark today moved a Parliamentary Notice of Motion in relation to events in Tibet.

The text of the Motion and her remarks to the House are copied below.


I move that this House express its deep concern at reports of violence and riots in Tibet and subsequently elsewhere in China; call on all sides to show restraint; express its strong support for the right of people to protest peacefully; urge the Chinese authorities to react carefully and proportionately to protest; and urge China to engage in meaningful dialogue with representatives of the Tibetan people in order to achieve a lasting resolution of problems in Tibet.

The subject of Tibet has very much been in the headlines in the last few days. The New Zealand Government is deeply concerned at the violence there and is monitoring the situation closely.

We have urged all involved to exercise restraint. We want to see an end to the violence. While latest reports from Lhasa indicate the city is calm, this does not necessarily mean the situation has been resolved.

In New Zealand, we respect the right of people to protest peacefully. We have urged the Chinese authorities to react carefully and proportionately to protest, both in the handling of events as they arise and in dealing with them in legal terms afterwards.

The New Zealand Government has also long urged China to engage in meaningful dialogue with representatives of the Tibetan people. In our view, this remains the best way to achieve a lasting resolution to problems in Tibet.

The New Zealand Government’s views on this matter have been conveyed to the Chinese authorities. There was contact with the Chinese authorities over the weekend, involving the New Zealand Ambassador to China, Tony Browne. There was subsequent engagement yesterday with both the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Ambassador here in New Zealand. It is my expectation that dialogue will continue through diplomatic channels.

I am advised that the Chinese authorities have formally confirmed that they have taken note of the New Zealand Government’s concerns about the situation in Tibet. I welcome that advice and China’s readiness to talk to us about developments.

We have made New Zealand’s position very clear and will continue to do so. Our approach is very much in keeping with that of other governments that have expressed concern about developments.

It is my intention to discuss these issues with the Chinese leadership, when I next meet with them. If everything goes according to plan in relation to the proposed free trade agreement, that will be next month in Beijing. As Members know, human rights issues, including Tibet, are a regular feature of my discussions with Chinese leaders, as they are of Ministerial and official level discussions.

This year is an important year for China as it prepares to host the Olympic Games. We have seen the enormous effort which has been put into preparations and we hope that the Games will be a success. It is no surprise that the issues which are now arising in respect of Tibet have focused international attention on China. The court of world opinion will judge how it manages these issues and any others that arise in coming months.

The New Zealand Government very much hopes that China can demonstrate calm leadership, befitting a country of its size and growing international role.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been aware of five New Zealanders in Tibet. All were understood to be planning to leave, and at least one has already left.


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