Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says it is absolutely clear that there are human rights abuses in Tibet and that one should not be shy about raising this with the Chinese Government. Addressing a joint press conference with US President George Bush on March 28, 2008 in Washington, D.C., the Prime Minister said China should talk to the Dalai Lama or his representatives and that he would be raising this issue with the Chinese leaders when he visits China during this trip.
President Bush also informed the media about his telephone conversation with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Following are relevant excerpts from the press conference, as released by the White House.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 28, 2008
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT BUSH AND PRIME MINISTER KEVIN RUDD OF AUSTRALIA IN JOINT PRESS AVAILABILITY
Question: Thank you, Mr. President. I wonder if you could talk a little bit more about Iraq and how it’s — you mentioned criminal elements that are being fought against now. How concerned are you that the violence now reflects, in fact, a deepening political and civil, even ethnic conflict inside of Iraq? How much now are American forces being drawn into the fighting in the last just few hours even? And how is it going to affect your decision looming on the way ahead?
And if I could ask you both, please, to talk a little bit about the crackdown in Tibet and how you see that affecting relations with China. Thank you.
President Bush: Tibet — he wants to talk to you about Tibet. (Laughter.)
Prime Minister Rudd: I’ll say one or two things about Tibet, and then we’ll flick to an Australian. It’s absolutely clear that there are human rights abuses in Tibet. That’s clear-cut. We need to be up-front and absolutely straight about what’s going on. We shouldn’t shilly-shally about it. We’ve made our positions clear on the public record, the Australian government has, about the need for restraint in the handling of this. I think it would be appropriate for the Chinese government to engage the Dalai Lama or his representatives in a informal set of discussions about future possibilities, when it comes to internal arrangements within Tibet.
We recognize China’s sovereignty over Tibet. But it is difficult, it’s complex, and it will certainly be matters which I’ll be raising when I visit China myself at the end of this visit abroad.
Question: Mr. President, if I could —
President Bush: Mr. Prime Minister, excuse me, Steven Lee is anxious on my view on Tibet. He couldn’t have said it better, and that’s exactly what I told Hu Jintao a couple of days ago, that it’s in his country’s interest that he sit down again with representatives of the Dalai Lama — he, not personally, but to have his representatives do so — and that we urged restraint. And I appreciate the Prime Minister’s view and advice on dealing with this issue.