Rex Tillerson

Rex Tillerson

Earlier today (February 1, 2017) the United States Senate voted to confirm Mr. Rex Tillerson as the next Secretary of State. In his prepared statement for the confirmation hearing on January 11, 2017, he said the following about China:

“We should also acknowledge the realities about China. China’s island building in the South China Sea is an illegal taking of disputed areas without regard for international norms. China’s economic and trade practices have not always followed its commitments to global agreements. It steals our intellectual property, and is aggressive and expansionist in the digital realm. It has not been a reliable partner in using its full influence to curb North Korea. China has proven a willingness to act with abandon in pursuit of its own goals, which at times has put it in conflict with America’s interests. We have to deal with what we see, not with what we hope.”

“But we need to see the positive dimensions in our relationship with China as well. The economic well-being of our two nations is deeply intertwined. China has been a valuable ally in curtailing elements of radical Islam. We should not let disagreements over other issues exclude areas for productive partnership.”

On the issue of his position on human rights in general, Mr. Tillerson said in his statement: “Supporting human rights in our foreign policy is a key component of clarifying to a watching world what America stands for,” adding that “We do not face an “either or” choice on defending global human rights. Our values are our interests when it comes to human rights and humanitarian assistance.”

During the Confirmation hearing, Senator Marco Rubio referred to the database of political prisoners maintained by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (which includes names of over 600 Tibetans) and asked Mr. Tillerson to respond whether China was “one of the world’s worst human rights violators.”

Mr. Tillerson’s response was: “China has serious human rights violations. In relative to categorizing them against other nations, I would have to have more information, but they certainly have serious human rights violations.”

Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said, “The United States has a time-honored tradition of bipartisan consensus on the Tibetan issue and respect for the Dalai Lama. We expect that the United States Congress, President Donald Trump, and Secretary Rex Tillerson will continue this tradition.”