Britain's foreign secretary William Hague Wednesday expressed “long-standing human rights concerns” about Tibet during his first official visit to China to strengthen bilateral trade relations between the two countries.
Hague called for greater autonomy in Tibet and raised concerns over a tight security presence in the region."We want to see long-term stability for Tibet, which in our view implies work on human rights and greater autonomy," he said during a news conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jeichi.
However, Yang claimed a heavy security presence is still needed to ensure order in the region, even if it may cause inconvenience for some residents living there.
Yang said common interests of the two countries outweigh the differences and would not have an adverse effect on normal ties between the two nations.
Hague is due to meet Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao later on Wednesday, before travelling to Japan on Thursday.
The 2008 unrest in the capital of Lhasa, which then sparked waves of protests across Tibetan areas, came a few months before Beijing hosted the Olympic Games. Many Tibetans said the Chinese governments have been treating them harshly since the riots.
Exiled Tibetans and rights groups say those in Tibet are living under difficult restraints and many are still waiting to hear from relatives and friends who disappeared after the violence.
Tibetan areas have been tense in recent years, with locals complaining about restrictions on Buddhism, government campaigns against their revered spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, and an influx of ethnic Han migrants that leave Tibetans feeling marginalized.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.