|The Foreign Office's appeasement of Tehran has some strong precedents, says Christopher Booker
By Christopher Booker
Last week, I reported on the strange eagerness of our Foreign and Commonwealth Office to appease the murderous regime in Tehran. Another example of the FCO's willingness to kowtow to nasty regimes has been flagged up in another newspaper, where a columnist researching ahead of a recent visit to China came across a remarkable statement
from the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, slipped out on the FCO website on October 29 2008, just before representatives of the Dalai Lama were due to hold talks in Beijing on the future of Tibet.
Prayers unanswered: the Dalai Lama on a visit to Britain (Photo: REUTERS/file)
Buried in the statement was Britain's recognition for the first time that, like "all other members of the EU… we regard Tibet as part of the People's Republic of China". The historic significance of this change was not lost on Beijing, since until then Britain, with its unique role in Tibet's history, had for 100 years been very careful not to recognise Chinese sovereignty over Tibet. The group known as Free Tibet noted that Miliband's concession gravely weakened the position of the Tibetan envoys without getting anything in return – commenting how extraordinary it was that Britain should have "rewarded China in such a way in the very year that China has committed its worst human rights abuses in Tibet in decades, including killing and torture".
One of the few newspapers in the West to pick up the full implications of this remarkable change of policy was The New York Times, which headlined a long piece by an academic expert: "Did Britain sell Tibet?
". As the article observed, China's press had gleefully explained Britain's climb-down as being due to the West's desire for Chinese help in escaping the financial crisis. Beijing had responded by dismissing the Tibetan envoys with a vicious attack on the Dalai Lama, accusing him of wishing to return Tibet to "serfdom".
How clever of Mr Miliband to announce his betrayal not to Parliament, but via a statement sneaked out on his ministry's website.The views expressed in this piece are that of the author and the publication of the piece on this website does not necessarily reflect their endorsement by the website.