London: Britain does not support an independent Tibet and recognises Chinese sovereignty over the Himalayan region, Prime Minister David Cameron has said amid reports of a rift with Beijing over the issue.
"Let us be absolutely clear: this government has not changed the long-standing British policy towards China and China and Tibet," Cameron told the House of Commons on Wednesday.
"We do want to have a strong and positive relationship with China, which I believe is in our mutual benefit. The Chinese government is aware of our policy on Tibet. We recognise Tibet as part of China. We do not support Tibetan independence and we respect China`s sovereignty," he added.
Beijing is said to be angry at his decision to meet the Dalai Lama, Tibet`s spiritual leader, in May 2012 and there has been speculation if an intended British prime ministerial tour of China will go ahead later in 2013.
The PM, alongside his deputy Nick Clegg, met the Dalai Lama when he visited the UK a year ago to accept the Templeton Prize for "affirming life`s spiritual dimension" at a ceremony in London`s St Paul`s Cathedral.
The Buddhist leader, who has been calling for a measure of independence for Tibet, has been living in exile in India since 1959.
At the time of his UK visit, Cameron`s office had defended the PM`s right to meet whomever he wants and said the meeting had been arranged to engage in "dialogue and discussion and gather a wide range of viewpoints on issues of importance".
China had halted ministerial meetings with UK counterparts as a result of that exchange and media reports here have recently claimed that Cameron had effectively been barred from visiting the country. These claims have, however, been strongly denied by Downing Street.
Cameron hopes to visit Beijing later in 2013 but no specific details of the visit have been released yet.
The Chinese authorities oppose contacts between the Dalai Lama and foreign governments but he has met a host of world leaders, including US President Barack Obama, in recent years.