( dpa )- New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said Monday that her government was "deeply concerned" at reports of violence and riots in Tibet and elsewhere in China.
She said she had directed New Zealand's ambassador in Beijing, Tony Browne, to register her country's concern with the Chinese government.
" New Zealand respects the right of people to protest peacefully," she said. "We urge the Chinese authorities to react carefully and proportionately to protest. We want to see an end to the violence."
Clark said, " New Zealand has long urged China to engage in meaningful dialogue with representatives of the Tibetan people as we think this is the best way to achieve a lasting resolution of problems in Tibet."
She said New Zealand regularly raised its concern over human rights matters in China, including in Tibet, in talks between ministers and officials of both countries.
"The New Zealand government takes an ongoing interest in developments in Tibet and will continue to convey its views to the Chinese authorities," she said.
But Clark rejected calls from the Green Party in parliament to call off her plan to go to Beijing next month to sign a free trade agreement between New Zealand and China.
Green legislator Keith Locke said at the weekend that it would mean signing the deal over the dead bodies of Tibetan monks.
Clark told her weekly news conference that New Zealand traded with a large number of countries which had different policies and views.
Peter Dunne, minister of revenue in Clark's coalition government and leader of the United Future party, said, "Because we are close to the Chinese government, New Zealand is in an excellent position to point out clearly that economic advantage for every nation on earth relies on free people, free to think for themselves and organise their own lives."
Dunne said he had hosted the Dalai Lama at a parliamentary reception last year because he believed in the rights of free peoples everywhere and urged the government to adopt a similar attitude.
The conservative National Party, the main opposition in parliament, also issued a statement calling on the Chinese government to respect the rights of Tibetan citizens to protest peacefully.