On the eve of the Republican Presidential debate on foreign policy scheduled for Tuesday, November 22, 2011, the International Campaign for Tibet has sent questionnaires to all candidates asking for them to give their views on what they would do on Tibet policy as President of the United States. Questions ask how the candidate would address the crisis in Tibet, whether or not he or she would meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the White House, as well as other issues relating to relations between the Chinese and Tibetans.
ICT has been sending such questionnaires during presidential campaigns since 2000 and will publicly display each candidate’s responses on the ICT homepage (https://savetibet.org). Because ICT is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, ICT cannot endorse any candidates or take part in any campaigns. The questionnaire is an attempt to inform Tibet-supporters in the U.S. of where each candidate stands on Tibet.
Please see below for the full text of the 2012 Presidential Candidate Questionnaire.
2012 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE
WHO WE ARE
The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) is a non-profit advocacy and monitoring group dedicated to promoting human rights and democratic freedoms for the Tibetan people. ICT’s mission is to return self-determination to the people of Tibet and encourage China to reach a negotiated solution with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
ICT has 23 years of experience in working with governments, the media, academics and others to advance the Tibetan cause. Our work has resulted in concrete achievements, from the $16 million that the U.S. Congress provides annually for Tibet, to promoting Tibetans’ rights in United Nations bodies, to mobilizing international goodwill in support of the Tibetan people.
WHO WE REPRESENT
ICT is the largest Tibet support group in the United States (and internationally), with some 350,000 members across the country. We regularly work in coalition with dozens of other Tibet support groups across America, human rights advocacy organizations, and the 25 Tibetan-Associations in the United States located in 24 states and the District of Columbia.
WHY WE ARE ASKING
As a service to our members, the Tibetan-American community and Tibet supporters living in the United States, we are asking the candidates in the 2012 presidential race for their views on the Tibet issue and relations with China. We intend to make these candidate responses available to the general public through our website (https://savetibet.org).
To give our members and intended audience sufficient time to study each response, we ask that the questionnaires be answered by December 15, 2011. As a non-partisan, non-profit organization, ICT cannot endorse candidates for political office or take part in campaigns. However, we appreciate the candidates’ responses to help inform Tibet supporters on where the candidates stand on this issue of great concern to them.
1. For decades His Holiness the Dalai Lama has sought a “Middle Way” approach that would provide genuine autonomy for Tibetans within the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese government calls him insincere and his approach a disguised quest for independence. The representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government have been engaged in a decade-long dialogue which has made procedural progress but not led to substantive results. Administrations of both parties have strongly endorsed the dialogue process as a path to a solution, and defended the sincerity of the Dalai Lama in his support for autonomy.
- As President, will you publicly express support for a negotiated solution on Tibet? Will you continue your predecessors’ expressed position that the Dalai Lama’s quest for autonomy is genuine? What steps can your Administration take to help the parties move to actual negotiations on substantive issues that seek to address the legitimate grievances of the Tibetan people?
2. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has met with the last four U.S. Presidents in the White House – George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama (most recently in July 2011) – as a globally recognized spiritual leader and to discuss the plight of the Tibetan people.
- Will you pledge to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the White House to discuss religious freedom, global issues of mutual concern, and the repression facing the Tibetan people?
3. The process to determine the successor/reincarnation of the next Dalai Lama is likely to be divisive and political. The Chinese government maintains that only it can approve the reincarnation of the next Dalai Lama after the current one passes. He, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, has stated that the process is a quintessentially spiritual one that will follow the teachings and concepts of Tibetan Buddhism and respect the will of the Tibetan people. The U.S. State Department has stated that Chinese government regulations on reincarnation infringe on fundamental religious freedoms.
- Do you believe that the reincarnation or succession of the next Dalai Lama should be determined by the government of China or by religious principles and practices of Tibetan Buddhism, the teachings of the current Dalai Lama, and the will of the Tibetan people?
4. Amidst the general level of repression across the Tibetan plateau, special attention has been directed to the town of Ngaba, where seven current and former monks at the Kirti Monastery have set themselves on fire in 2011. Chinese authorities have imposed severe restrictions on religious practice at the monastery and forcibly removed some 300 monks whose whereabouts are unknown. Chinese security forces have imposed a lockdown at the monastery and in the town. Authorities have cut off Ngaba from the outside world, shutting down Internet access and blocking access by foreign diplomats and journalists.
- What would your Administration do to engage Chinese authorities on lifting the siege at Kirti Monastery and lift restrictions on religious practice that create resentment among the Tibetan community? What would your Administration do to insist on open access for diplomats and journalists to closed-off Tibetan areas in reciprocity for the open access that Chinese officials and citizens enjoy to all areas of the United States?
5. The United States’ relationship with China is perhaps the most complex and multi-faceted of any in the world. Human rights have long been an important facet of this relationship, although the priority given to this aspect has varied over time. Many observers note that pledges to be tough with China, especially on human rights, made by presidential candidates tend to become moderated when the candidates assume office.
- If you become President, how will you integrate human rights into your overall policy approach to the People’s Republic of China? What level of priority will you give to human rights in the U.S.-China relationship, including those of Tibetans and other non-Han peoples suffering under the policies of the Han-dominated central government?