As US Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepares to visit China, the International Campaign for Tibet calls on him to substantively raise the Tibetan issue with Chinese leaders, including by pushing them to resume dialogue with the envoys of the Dalai Lama.

The State Department announced today that Blinken will visit the People’s Republic of China and the United Kingdom from June 16-21.

Under the Tibetan Policy Act, the Secretary is obligated to act on US support for Tibet, which the Chinese government has illegally occupied for over 60 years.

In addition, then-candidate Joe Biden pledged to “stand up for the people of Tibet” in a statement during his campaign in 2020.

The American people have also long expressed consistent, bipartisan support for Tibetans and the Dalai Lama.

Therefore, Blinken has the charge from the President, the Congress and the people of the United States to engage in frank and meaningful conversations about Tibet with his counterparts in Beijing. He must take this opportunity to help resolve the decades-old Tibet-China conflict while the Dalai Lama is still able to play an active role in negotiations and before the situation further deteriorates.

Specifically, Blinken must raise the need to resume dialogue between envoys of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government. These talks have been dormant since 2010 while the situation in Tibet has spiraled.

The length of time since the previous round of negotiations and the Dalai Lama’s advancing age underscore the need for a concrete initiative by the US while His Holiness is active and can help ensure a peaceful resolution to the Tibet-China conflict.

Other issues

During his trip, Secretary Blinken should also take up other issues related to Tibet.

Just recently, Blinken told Freedom House—which this year ranked Tibet the least-free country on Earth alongside South Sudan and Syria—that the State Department was “concerned by reports of the spread of mass DNA collection to Tibet as an additional form of control and surveillance over the Tibetan population.” Blinken should raise those concerns with Chinese leaders during his trip.

In addition, Blinken should reiterate and follow up on the United States’ position on the issue of the reincarnation of Tibetan Buddhist leaders, especially the US policy that only the current Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhists have the authority to decide on his succession.

Blinken should also elevate the need to end China’s forced isolation of Tibet. While Chinese citizens have access to the United States, Americans do not have access to Tibet. In particular, Tibetan Americans face consistent discrimination at the hands of Chinese officials when seeking visas or communication with their families.

Secretary Blinken should also include Tibetan political prisoners on his agenda and call for their release during his discussions in Beijing. In particular, we highlight the cases of the Panchen Lama and Go Sherab Gyatso.

The International Campaign for Tibet urges Secretary Blinken to use his platform to send an important message to the Chinese government that the US will stand up for Tibetans and other peoples oppressed by Beijing.

ICT also joined over 40 other NGOs in a letter to Blinken today saying “the standard approach of merely ‘raising’ human rights issues, mostly behind closed doors, is unlikely to bring about positive change.” The letter urges Blinken to “deliver different messages and to deliver them in different ways,” including pushing his Chinese counterparts “to follow the recommendations of UN experts and bodies to immediately abolish the coercive boarding school system imposed on Tibetan children.”