The Chinese Ambassador to Britain has attacked elements in the British media for their biased coverage of the recent pro-Tibetan riots in Lhasa.
Speaking at a reception to promote bilateral business ties, Ambassador Fu Ying accused some Western media of distorting the facts to present a picture of Chinese oppression over Tibetans, adding that she had been “hurt” by some of the coverage in the press.
However, members of the British media hit back with Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger writing a strongly worded letter to the Ambassador accusing China of “an act of deliberate and wholly unacceptable censorship” after the apparent blocking of international news websites such as the BBC and Guardian, which coincided with the recent riots in Tibet.
The sites have subsequently been unblocked and access to the BBC site has been relaxed. The Chinese government also organised a press trip of the region, albeit very tightly managed.
The protests in Lhasa also prompted demonstrations outside the London Embassy, which was pelted with eggs and tomatoes by pro-Tibetan protesters in solidarity with those injured and killed in clashes with Chinese police in Tibet and other Chinese provinces.
Chinese diplomats are now bracing themselves for further protests as the Olympic torch relay makes its way through London on 6 April.
Foreign Minister David Miliband has said Britain will allow Tibet protestors to stage a demonstration but underlined the need for moderation.
“Our own traditions of free speech and free demonstration must be upheld in respect of all matters, including the passage of the Olympic torch,” Miliband told parliament.