(dpa) - Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Wednesday said there were "significant human rights problems" in China's Tibetan areas and urged the Chinese government to solve them through talks.
Australia continued to recognize Tibet as China's sovereign territory, "but we also believe it is necessary to recognize that there are significant human rights problems in Tibet," Rudd said in speech delivered in Chinese at Beijing University.
"We recognize the need for all parties to avoid violence and find a solution through dialogue," he told several hundred students, officials and journalists.
His visit to China began as Australian media reported that China had lodged formal complaints about Rudd's remarks in Washington, where he also criticised rights abuses in Tibet and urged China to hold talks with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
In his speech on Wednesday, Rudd did not mention the Olympic torch relay, which is the target of continuing protests by Tibetan independence activists, or say if he planned to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing games in August.
But he said the holding of the Olympics should help to make China more open.
"I believe the Olympics are important for China's continuing engagement with the world," he said.
Rudd was the first Western leader to make a speech in China in Chinese.
Despite him touching upon the controversial issues of human rights and Tibet, the end of his speech was greeted with loud applause from the students and officials. a