The International Campaign for Tibet calls on President Obama to use the opportunity of next week’s summit in China to focus on Tibet’s future and to dismiss attempts by Beijing to manipulate U.S. policy. On November 6, 2009, the South China Morning Post reported that the Chinese government is asking the Obama Administration to state that “Tibet is part of China’s territory and the US opposes Tibetan independence.”

“President Obama’s engagement with Chinese leaders should be consistent with established U.S. policy and his desire for forward movement in the Tibetan-Chinese dialogue,” said Mary Beth Markey, Vice President of International Advocacy at the International Campaign for Tibet.

It is the policy of the United States that “the Tibet Autonomous Region and Tibetan autonomous counties and prefectures are part of the People’s Republic of China.”

“The request from the Chinese government is not a matter of semantics but part of a concerted Chinese strategy to deflect international support for a resolution to the Tibet issue by seeking legitimacy for its claim to Tibet,” said Ms. Markey. “President Obama should urge Chinese leaders to look to the future, as the Dalai Lama has done, and work purposefully toward a resolution that meets the aspirations of both the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.”

An Obama Administration statement that Tibet is a part of China’s territory could be interpreted as recognition of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet prior to the 17 Point Agreement between the Tibetan and PRC governments (1951). A statement that the United States opposes Tibetan independence could be interpreted as foreclosing any question of the past or future independence of Tibet in principle.