Tibet protesters clash with police as Chinese PM arrives in Britain

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The Independent Online

Five demonstrators were arrested during scuffles with police outside the Chinese embassy in London yesterday as they called for freedom for Tibet. It was one of several protests planned during the visit of China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who arrived in London on Saturday as part of a European tour aimed at improving trade between Europe and China and finding a way out of the global financial crisis.

The protesters were objecting to China's military occupation of Tibet, which Beijing regards as a province of China. Police said that five men were arrested for public order offences after trying to push past officers to get to the doors of the embassy in Regent's Park. It is thought that they were trying to attach a Free Tibet flag to the door.

While the Free Tibet group greeted Mr Wen with boos and jeers, they were flanked on both sides of the road by supporters celebrating his arrival with noisy cheers and chants, and traditional drumming, dragon dancing and firecrackers.

Ugyan Norbu, who comes from south-western Tibet but has lived in Britain for 30 years, said: "For too long the British government has appeased the Chinese government. The British government is in the best position to negotiate with the Chinese on Tibet. I know the British people won't let us down but the British government is still appeasing the Chinese."

He added: "As far as I'm concerned, Tibet is caged and has been for 50 years. Tibetan people cannot go in or out. They live in terror of the Chinese authorities. They call us hooligans but we are not hooligans. We have to come here to demonstrate and speak the truth, we have to do it, we can do no other."

Mr Wen is spending three days in Britain. He began his visit on Saturday, when he met Gordon Brown. Yesterday he had a 45-minute meeting with David Cameron. They discussed the global crisis and the upcoming G20 summit. Mr Cameron said he had also raised the issue of human rights.

After his British sojourn, Mr Wen will visit Germany, Spain, the EU headquarters in Brussels and the World Economic Forum in Davos.