We are gathering here at a time when we are faced with yet another new development in Tibet that signifies a consistent pattern of Chinese denial of Tibetan rights. This is in addition to the very many Tibetans who have undertaken the highest form of protest, namely self-immolations in Tibet.

The reports of shooting of Tibetans who were celebrating the birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on July 6 clearly indicates the continued denial of even religious freedom to the Tibetan people by the Chinese authorities. The United States should ask China to conduct an objective investigation into the reported shooting of unarmed Tibetans participating in a religious ceremony to venerate the Dalai Lama, and to bring those responsible to justice.

We would like to ask our American Government — as it begins to have a two-day session of this year’s Strategic & Economic Dialogue with Chinese representatives – to prioritize Tibet on the Agenda for talks.

We believe the issue of Tibet deserves to be raised by the United States from both the strategic and economic viewpoints.

The United States has, through the Tibet Policy Act and other measures, outlined that the issue of Tibet is of strategic importance to the US-China relationship. Tibet occupies a key location and has historically been the buffer between India and China. The rivers of Tibet are the main sources of water for large parts of Asia. Tibetan environment is a key factor in changes in the world’s climate. Therefore, if the tension in Tibet is heightened it will only lead to instability in the region. As the leading world power that cherishes peace and stability the United States should ask China to respect the rights of the Tibetan people.

Economically, we support principled economic relations between the United States and China. But that relationship should not be at the cost of the fundamental values that the United States cherishes, and which are enshrined in the United Nations’ charter.

China’s human rights record in Tibet and its failure to respond to initiatives by the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan leadership for a negotiated settlement of the Tibetan problem clearly indicates that China needs to change greatly if it wants to continue to derive benefits from economic engagement with the United States. The United States should reiterate its position that the resumption of dialogue on Tibet will be well received.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has urged governments that are dealing with China to continue to make it open up not only for commerce and trade relations, but also for democracy and for freedom and the establishment of the rule of law.

Yesterday, the State Department has announced that human rights and Ethnic minority issues will be on the agenda on the Strategic Track. We would like to see that in a visible manner and also include these on the agenda of the Economic Track.

The new Chinese leadership has said that “that Chinese-U.S. cooperation is an anchor for world peace and stability”; they want to “blaze a new trail” and to project the US-China relationship as “a new-model major-country relationship.” The United States should therefore call on China to conduct substantive discussions on Tibet at the S&ED to test these utterances.