The International Campaign for Tibet is urging President Bush to strongly raise the issue of negotiations on Tibet when he visits China in February this year. The White House announced on January 11 that President Bush would visit China from February 21 to 22 as part of a three-nation trip, which was postponed following the September 11 tragedy.
In addition to China, President Bush is visiting Japan and South Korea. The President is scheduled to leave Washington, D.C. on February 16, arriving in Japan on February 17, and then spend February 18-19 in Tokyo, February 19-20 in Seoul, South Korea, and February 21-22 in Beijing.
Talking about the objective of the visit, White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer said, “During his visit to these three countries, the President will discuss our common struggle against terrorism, economic recovery, the strengthening of our alliances in the region, and other areas of mutual interest. ”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Sun Yuxi, addressing a regular press briefing on January 15, 2002, said he believes Bush’s “working visit to China” will be constructive with efforts by both parties. Xinhua quotes Sun as saying, “Since U.S. President George Bush assumed office in 2001, Sino-U. S. relations have had their ups and downs even though both sides made their efforts in bilateral cooperation in the latter half of 2001. This included close cooperation on counter-terrorist issues.”
“Dialog on human rights issues has been resumed and is making progress,” Sun added.
ICT is working with like-minded NGOs to make a joint representation to the White House concerning President Bush’s forthcoming trip to China.
The visits were originally planned ahead of last year’s October 20-21 annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Shanghai but President Bush cut his trip short then. ICT had urged the President then to raise Tibet with President Jiang in Shanghai and the White House subsequently responded to ICT saying that President Bush did indeed raise the issue. The White House communication mentioned a commitment that President Bush had made to the Dalai Lama during their May 2001 meeting that he would urge the Chinese leaders to begin negotiations on the issue of Tibet with the Dalai Lama.