POLITICS

David Cameron 'Not Banned' From China, Downing Street Insists

07/05/2013 15:14 BST | Updated 07/05/2013 17:16 BST
PA
Conservative party leader David Cameron (left) meets with the Dalai Lama at the Houses of Parliament in London.

David Cameron has not been banned from China as punishment for meeting the Dalai Lama and aims to visit Beijing before the end of the year, Downing Street has insisted.

It has been reported that China is furious that the prime minister met with the exiled Tibetan leader last year and wants him to apologise.

A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry told the Daily Telegraph today that the relationship between China and the UK was "undermined" by the meeting at St Paul's Cathedral in 2012.

Asked whether the row had led to Cameron being banned from China, a spokesperson for the prime minister said: "No." He added: "I believe the prime minister aims to go before the end of the year."

The spokesperson told journalists in Westminster that there had recently been "warm" meetings between Cameron and Chinese leaders. However details of any future planned meetings were not provided.

No.10 also emphasised that Chinese investment in the UK was $8bn in 2012 - a figure "four times more than the previous total".

The spokesperson added: "We want to establish a stronger relationship with China, recognising that it is in the interests of both countries to manage our differences with respect and co-operate as much as possible."

Soon after coming to power, Cameron led a group of ministers, including George Osborne and Vince Cable, and business leaders to Beijing. The trip was the largest British delegation to go to China in more than 200 years.

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China is seen as a key market for the UK and has been targeted by the coalition. In February Cable said the country's "future prosperity" would depend on trade between the two nations.

Downing Street said today it was "entirely reasonable for the prime minister to decide who he meets" when asked if there was pressure for him to apologise.

The spokesperson added: "The Chinese government always lobbies hard against any meetings between foreign governments and the Dalai Lama. We have made clear in advance to the Chinese government that British ministers will decide who they meet and when they meet them."