Today 39 Tibetan Associations, organizations and Tibet support groups asked President Barack Obama to make Tibet a substantive part of the agenda during his summit with China’s President Hu Jintao on January 19.

“President Obama understands the Tibet problem as a trespass against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a challenge to China’s peaceful rise,” said Mary Beth Markey, President of the International Campaign for Tibet. “He should use the opportunity of this summit to tell President Hu that a peaceful solution for Tibet is not only possible, but a prerequisite for China attaining the status and legitimacy it seeks.”

The International Campaign for Tibet also joined nine other human rights and China-specialist groups in calling for US President Barack Obama to use the upcoming state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao as an opportunity to demonstrate the US’s commitment to human rights in China. (View the letter here and the related press release here).

Just as President Obama, Secretary Clinton and other U.S. officials have continued to engage their Chinese counterparts on Tibet, Chinese leaders have hardened their position on Tibet in an effort to force the issue beyond negotiation or discussion. The letter by the 39 Tibet groups states that the United States’ “long-standing history of supporting the Tibetan people … creates an incumbent duty on this Administration to continue to raise the issue with Chinese leaders at the highest levels.”

The letter argues that China’s failed policies in Tibet have consequences far beyond the borders of the People’s Republic of China, citing Chinese dams on upper reaches of rivers that originate in Tibet and flow into neighboring countries as a potential source of regional instability. It also refers to the recent student protests against an official Chinese policy to subordinate instruction in the Tibetan language to Mandarin.

“This letter also demonstrates the eagerness of new Tibetan-Americans to exercise their democratic rights and raise their political voices for Tibet,” said Mary Beth Markey. “Tibetan-American communities, which have grown and prospered across the United States, now hold annual lobby activities in Congress and are determined to be heard in the Executive Branch as well.”

The text of the letter and list of signatory groups are as follows and can be downloaded as a PDF »

January 13, 2011

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We, the undersigned Tibetan Associations, organizations and Tibet support groups, are writing to ask that you make Tibet a substantive part of the agenda when President Hu Jintao visits Washington on January 19.

You have spoken often of the universality of fundamental human rights, most recently to mark the awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese writer and democracy activist Liu Xiaobo.

As you are aware, for the past six decades, the Tibetan people have been denied their fundamental human rights. President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington is a unique opportunity to engage him meaningfully on the Tibet issue and showcase the ideals and values cherished by Americans, including openness, democracy and individual liberty. These principles underlie your remarks about rights that are universal to all human beings.

The United States has a long-standing history of supporting the Tibetan people and their peaceful struggle for human rights and freedom. This support has become institutionalized within the U.S. government through the development of policies and programs designed to help Tibetans preserve and promote their culture, identity and dignity. You have commended His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s tireless efforts to negotiate a resolution for Tibet with the Chinese government, a position consistent with long-standing U.S. policy.

Tibet is an integral part of the U.S.-China relationship for moral, historical and strategic reasons. The position the United States has adopted on Tibet creates an incumbent duty on this Administration to continue to raise the issue with Chinese leaders at the highest levels. Tibet must be on the agenda of your summit with President Hu.

The recent protests by Tibetan students objecting to the central government’s plans to subordinate the Tibetan language to Mandarin as the language of instruction are emblematic of China’s policy failures in Tibet.

Moreover, there is a growing recognition of the potential impact China’s infrastructure projects on the Tibetan plateau will have on access to water in downstream countries, as Secretary Clinton noted during her visit to Cambodia. The role of Tibet, also known by scientists as the “Third Pole,” in global climate change is further evidence that developments in Tibet are anything but the exclusive internal affairs of the People’s Republic of China. Without a multilateral framework to address these issues, Chinese policies in Tibet could exacerbate regional instability. A just and lasting solution for Tibet that includes Tibetans as integral stakeholders will bring greater stability for China, its regional neighbors and indeed the world.

These points underlie the central message that we ask you to convey to President Hu – that the United States has, and will continue to have, a strong interest in Tibet and will remain committed to facilitating a just and lasting resolution for Tibet. This commitment comes with an expectation that Tibetans must be freely able to exercise their basic human rights and freedoms, preserve their distinctive culture, and address the ecological, educational, political and economic consequences of the Chinese government’s failed policies in Tibet.

The U.S. government should continue to press China’s leadership for results-oriented negotiations to achieve a political solution for Tibet and engage China in topical areas, including education policies pertaining to Tibetans and regional discussions on water security.

Your proactive approach will demonstrate to the Chinese government that Tibet is an integral part of the U.S.-China relationship as are basic universal values of human rights and dignity. Again, we thank you for your public expressions of support for the Tibet issue and for your leadership in raising it with Chinese leaders, and look forward to your continuing to exert this leadership when you meet with President Hu.


Association Cognizance Tibet, North Carolina

Capital Area Tibetan Association
Indiana Tibetan Association

Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association
Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota

Tibetan Association of Boston

Tibetan Association of Charlottesville
Tibetan Association of Colorado

Tibetan Association of Connecticut
Tibetan Association of Idaho

Tibetan Association of Ithaca

Tibetan Association of New York and New Jersey
Tibetan Association of North Carolina
Tibetan Association of Northern California
Tibetan Association of Ohio and Michigan

Tibetan Association of Santa Fe

Tibetan Association of Philadelphia

Tibetan Association of Southern California
Tibetan Association of Washington
Utah Tibetan Association

Wisconsin Tibetan Association

Bay Area Friends of Tibet

Boston Tibet Network

Committee of 100 for Tibet

International Campaign for Tibet

International Tibet Independence Movement
Los Angeles Friends of Tibet

Regional Tibetan Youth Congress of New York and New Jersey
San Diego Friends of Tibet

Santa Barbara Friends of Tibet

Seattle Friends of Tibet
Sierra Friends of Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet

Tibet Committee of Fairbanks

The Tibet Connection

Tibet Justice Center

Tibet Online

U.S. Tibet Committee
Western Colorado Friends of Tibet