* Cameron in first China trip since Dalai Lama row last year
* Priority is to deepen economic ties
* Campaigners urge him to raise Tibet
By Andrew Osborn
LONDON, Nov 30 Britain has put a diplomatic rift
with China over the Dalai Lama behind it and Prime Minister
David Cameron has no plans to meet Tibet's spiritual leader
again, a senior source in his office said ahead of a visit by
the British leader to Beijing.
Instead, Cameron will use a three-day visit to China next
week, his first since the Dalai Lama rift, to focus on deepening
trade ties with the world's second largest economy, taking with
him a delegation of around 100 business people.
"This visit is forward looking. We have turned a page on
that issue," said the source when asked whether Cameron would
raise the issue of Tibet during his trip. "It's about shifting
UK relations up a gear and looking to the future."
Foreign trips often pose a public relations problem for the
British leader as he has to balance his policy of helping
Britain win what he calls the global economic "race" with
speaking out about any human rights concerns.
It is a circle he has sometimes found hard to square and
campaigners often accuse him of putting trade before rights.
Cameron, who is likely to visit Beijing, Shanghai and
Chengdu, had been expected to travel to China last autumn.
But he didn't go after China took offence at him holding a
meeting with the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing deems a separatist.
China summoned the British ambassador to protest at the
time, saying the meeting had "seriously interfered with China's
internal affairs", urging Britain to "correct the error".
Free Tibet, a group that campaigns against what it says are
rights abuses in the autonomous Chinese region, released a poll
on the eve of Cameron's visit showing that 58 percent of Britons
thought he should raise the issue of Tibet with the Chinese.
"It's clear from this poll that only a handful of British
people believe trade with China is more important than human
rights in Tibet and that they expect Mr Cameron to act like a
statesman, not a salesman," Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, the group's
director, said in a statement.
Last month, George Osborne, Britain's finance minister,
visited China with Boris Johnson, the mayor of London.
Both men declined to discuss the Dalai Lama, focusing
instead on what they said was the huge potential for enhanced
Osborne announced less stringent rules for Chinese banks
operating in London in a push to make the British capital the
main offshore hub for trading in China's currency and bonds.
He also opened the door to Chinese investors taking majority
stakes in future British nuclear plants.
The source said British exports to China had increased by 20
percent in the first six months of this year, while inward
investment by China was at its highest level in decades.
The timing of Cameron's trip was good, the source said,
because it came soon after China's communist leadership set new
long-term policy priorities which included opening up the
Xavier Rolet, the chief executive of the London Stock
Exchange, is expected to travel with Cameron.
The business delegation is also expected to include Andrew
Witty, the chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline. The
company was drawn into a bribery case in China earlier this year
which resulted in police detaining four Chinese GSK executives.
Peter Humphrey, a British man running a risk advisory group,
was also detained and is still being held.