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UK's Lord Malloch Brown Speaks About Tibet

Edited Transcript Of An Interview With Lord Malloch Brown On The BBC Radio 4 World This Weekend Programme

Lord Malloch Brown Speaks About Tibet

Brian Hanrahan, Presenter: Well the Foreign Office Minister, Lord Malloch Brown, joins us now. Good afternoon, Lord Malloch Brown.

Lord Malloch Brown, Foreign Office Minister: Good afternoon.

BH: The Foreign Secretary has called for restraint and dialogue. Is that a sufficiently robust response to this?

LMB: Well I think we've got to find out the facts. We're trying to get somebody up into...into Lhasa from Beijing to try and work out just how much violence there has been. The reports are still a little unclear. But I mean it's not just calling for restraint and dialogue. We want to see an end to the violence, we want to see killings on both sides stop and we will go on pressing both alone but also with the European Union through working with the Americans and others who share our concern and equally want to put pressure to get this situation back to normal.

BH: How much do you think the Chinese will take notice of you? They think this is a matter of internal security for them.

LMB: Well, you know, the same way they have reluctantly gone along with the regular human rights dialogues we have and the cases we raise with them. They don't like it but they recognise that if they are to be a global player, this is part of the responsibility they bear. So, you know, I think strategically through out policy of engagement with China and having people like the Prime Minister, Foreign secretary, myself, visit very regularly, the goal is to draw them in to the global economy with the implication that that requires an opening of their own political situation. And I...I think the Olympics are an important step in that direction.

BH: But if you don't make public statements about this, if you are mealy-mouthed and mute, as Nick Clegg put it, don't you encourage the Chinese to just push you to one side?

LMB: Well I don't think it's to do with the sort of stridency of the statement....statements at the beginning of this are going to determine the Chinese position. What will is the recognition that they're receiving in our messages to them, that with the Olympics ahead, you know, they really will pay a terrible cost in international public opinion if they're seen to violently crack down on dissidents. And, you know, I very much hope that they will take that to heart and that they will find a way to talk this through and start the dialogue which is long overdue in Tibet.

BH: We're hearing an ultimatum to demonstrators to give themselves up to avoid further violence. Similar language was used before Tiannamen according to people who were there at the time. Are you....are you concerned that the Chinese might be tempted to go the same way?

LMB: I think they'd be making a huge mistake and I'm sure there is a debate inside China. I happened to be passing through China Friday night, 36 hours ago, and was amazed to see that in my hotel room the CNN and BBC were blacked out every time Tibet came up. And then the next morning, yesterday morning, to see in the China Daily the only reference to what was happening being that...being that it was all the Dalai Lama's fault. Well, you know, that kind of political closeness is not going to work in a country which is about to host thousands of journalists and have hundreds of....well millions of...hundreds of millions of viewers of its Olympics. It's going to have to engage openly with this problem for its own reputation's sake.

BH: Given Hu Jin Tao's history in this affair which we've been hearing about, are you worried that the decision may go the wrong way?

LMB: Well again we're going to be pressing and doing all we can to make sure it doesn't and I think we are confident that this...that the China of 2008 is not the China of 20 years ago and while it still has these unfortunate, regrettable authoritarian tendencies in its politics, it is a much more open place, engaged with the world and internally engaged than it was then.

BH: Lord Malloch Brown, thank you.

ENDS

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