The International Campaign for Tibet, a Washington-based rights group, said on Wednesday China was lobbying the United Nations to bar it from participating in a U.N. development conference to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, this year.

China has written to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan accusing the group of favouring “splitting Tibet from China” and urging that it not be accredited for the U.N. Summit on Sustainable Development “as a matter of principle to the Chinese government.”

But the group said it supported only self-determination for Tibet’s people and should be allowed to attend the August 26-September 4 meeting.

“The international community is well aware of China’s intolerance and repression against those who support self-determination within her borders, but this is a conference on sustainable development,” said the group’s director, Bhuchung Tsering.

“ICT’s accreditation should be based on the United Nations’ published criteria of ‘relevance and competence in the field of sustainable development,'” Tsering said.

Conference organisers were due to vote on February 8 on whether to grant the group credentials.