With Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Washington last week, both President Obama and the U.S. House of Representatives stated that the U.S. government expects Beijing to negotiate with the Dalai Lama’s representatives on a durable solution for Tibet, despite repeated demands by Chinese officials to drop the Tibet issue.
“The statements by the President and the House send an unequivocal message that the United States expects the Chinese government to negotiate sincerely with the Dalai Lama,” said Todd Stein, Director of Government Relations at the International Campaign for Tibet. “The U.S. government has reminded China’s leaders that their vision for a harmonious U.S.-China relationship will not materialize until they deal with Tibetan leaders on a durable solution for Tibet.”
On Thursday, President Obama told Foreign Minister Yang of his “hope there would be progress in the dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama’s representatives,” according to a White House statement. This followed a State Department statement issued on the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s exile which “urge[d] China to reconsider its policies in Tibet that have created tensions due to their harmful impact on Tibetan religion, culture, and livelihoods.”
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution that “calls upon the Government of the People’s Republic of China to respond to the Dalai Lama’s initiatives to find a lasting solution to the Tibetan issue.” The resolution (H.Res. 226), which also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s exile, was introduced by Representatives Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and approved by an overwhelming vote of 422 to one.
In debate on the House floor, Rep. Holt, the sponsor of the resolution, said, “We urge the Chinese Government to engage in a constructive dialogue with the Dalai Lama in a sustained effort to craft a permanent and just solution that protects the rights and dignity of all Tibetans.” Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, the lead cosponsor and Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, this resolution can serve as a response to the foreign minister. The U.S. Congress has a message for the Foreign Minister of China’s Communist regime, and that is that the Dalai Lama is not only a religious figure, but a person of such renown that he was granted the Congressional Gold Medal.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “What we can do is put the moral authority of the Congress of the United States in the form of this resolution, with a broad bipartisan vote, down as a marker to say that we understand the situation there, that we encourage it to be different and … that we are on the side of the Tibetan people. On Monday, Speaker Pelosi, on behalf of the U.S. government accepted the gratitude of the Tibetan-American community as Tibetan-Americans from around the country converged on Washington to lobby Congress to continue its long-standing support for Tibet.
President Obama will met Chinese President and Party Secretary Hu Jintao in London on April 2 for the G20 Summit.
European Parliamentarians support Tibet dialogue for 50th anniversary
In a resolution adopted by the European Parliament on Thursday 12 March to mark the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule, the Chinese Government is urged to resume talks with the Dalai Lama’s representatives with a view to “positive, meaningful change in Tibet”, not ruling out autonomy, which is a solution that the parliamentarians believe would not compromise China’s territorial integrity.
The European Parliament urges the Chinese government “to consider the Memorandum for Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People of November 2008 as a basis for substantive discussion leading towards positive, meaningful change in Tibet, consistent with the principles outlined in the Constitution and laws of the People’s Republic of China”. The resolution calls on the EU Council Presidency to adopt a declaration along the same lines.
The Tibetan Memorandum, presented by envoys of the Dalai Lama at the eighth round of talks in November 2008 in Beijing, respects the principles underpinning the Chinese Constitution and the territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China, but was rejected by the Chinese Government as an attempt at ‘semi-independence’ and ‘independence in disguise’.
In addition, Parliament’s resolution “condemns all acts of violence, whether they are the work of demonstrators or disproportionate repression by the forces of law and order”. It calls on the Chinese Government “to release immediately and unconditionally all those detained solely for engaging in peaceful protest and account for all those who have been killed or gone missing”.
MEPs ask the Chinese authorities “to provide foreign media access to Tibet, including the Tibetan areas outside the Tibet Autonomous Region” and “to grant UN human rights experts and recognised international NGOs unimpeded access to Tibet so that they can investigate the situation there”.
The resolution was adopted by 338 votes to 131 with 14 abstentions.