Human rights issues are a constant and important point of dialogue with the Chinese authorities at both bilateral and European Union levels. At EU level, the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue is the agreed formal framework through which the EU raises its concerns with China about individual human rights cases, and more general issues such as freedom of expression and the abolition of the death penalty. These issues were raised at the latest round of the Dialogue in Beijing on 19 October 2006. At the meeting, the EU raised cases relating to Tibetan individuals in its list of individual cases of concern submitted to the Chinese authorities, a procedure which forms part of the Dialogue process.
At this meeting also, the EU specifically raised the issue of shooting of Tibetan refugees at the Nanga La Pass on the Tibet-Nepal border on 30 September, expressing our deep concern about these events and urging China to investigate the incident thoroughly. We continue to have serious concerns about the official Chinese explanation of the event, which does not appear compatible with the testimony of independent eyewitnesses or video footage of the event. I believe it is important that China seek to establish and address the full facts of the incident. Ireland, with our EU partners, will continue to follow up the matter closely with the Chinese authorities.
Ireland established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1979, and, in line with our ‘One China' policy and the position of all other EU partners, recognises Tibet as an integral part of China. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, in his ‘middle-way-approach', while seeking greater autonomy for Tibet, also accepts that it is part of the People's Republic of China and stresses that the solution he seeks for the people of Tibet is one ‘within the framework of the Chinese constitution'.
Ireland, together with our EU partners, strongly supports the dialogue between the Chinese authorities and representatives of the Dalai Lama that has been taking place since 2002, the last meeting having taken place in February this year. We would very much encourage the dialogue between the two sides to continue, leading to a peaceful and sustainable solution for Tibet.
The Government has consistently called on the Chinese authorities to respect fully the rights of the Tibetan people, including their socioeconomic and human rights. We will continue to address our ongoing concerns regarding Tibet, both bilaterally and within the framework of the EU-China dialogue.
On a bilateral level, I met with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing on 12 May during my recent visit to Beijing. During our meeting, I had the opportunity to raise human rights issues and concerns, including the importance we attach to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.