The International Campaign for Tibet calls on the United States Congress and Administration to use the visit this week of a Chinese Government delegation from Tibet to challenge China’s policies on Tibet through direct and frank dialogue with the group. The delegation is headed by Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region Lobsang Gyaltsen (Chinese: Luosang Jiangcun).

Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “This visit is part of an assertive and systematic approach by the Chinese government to project an impression that the situation in Tibet is normal and harmonious. The American people, and Congress and Administration, are not so easily fooled. The reality is that more than 130 Tibetans have set themselves on fire and died in agony to protest Chinese policies in Tibet and to call for the return of the Dalai Lama. Instead of addressing Tibetans’ genuine grievances, and continue a political dialogue with the Tibetan leadership, the Chinese response has been to intensify the military buildup and strengthen their aggressive campaign against the Dalai Lama. This is deeply counter-productive and must be addressed with the visiting delegation.”

The U.S. Government has consistently urged the Chinese government to address policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions, as it stated in 2012: “Chinese authorities have responded to these tragic incidents with measures that tighten already strict controls on freedoms of religion, expression, assembly and association of Tibetans. Official rhetoric that denigrates the Tibetan language, the Dalai Lama, and those who have self-immolated has further exacerbated tensions.”

The delegation began a visit of Canada and the United States on November 30 and will be visiting Washington, D.C. and New York this week. Lobsang Gyaltsen is one of the senior Tibetan leaders in the Tibet Autonomous Region, but a Tibetan has never held the more senior post of Communist Party leader, which is currently held by Chen Quanguo. The Chinese state media report of December 2 said that the delegation will hold discussions with “parliament, government, think tanks, mainstream media, overseas Chinese and local Tibetans.”

The Chinese Government uses such visits by their officials as vehicles for their domestic propaganda. The United States Congress and Administration must be firm in asserting that their visit to Washington this week does not represent American endorsement of the Chinese government’s policies in Tibet. The United States’ position as enshrined in the bi-partisan Tibet Policy Act of 2002 has been to ask the Chinese Government to engage in dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives without preconditions.

During his visit to Vancouver, where he began his current tour, Lobsang Gyaltsen presented the official Party line, which is that the Dalai Lama is responsible for the problems in Tibet, and that the Western media and “anti –China forces” are engaged in ‘deliberate distortion’ of the situation in Tibet. He even suggested that people could go to Tibet to look for themselves. The United States government and think tanks hosting the delegation should not allow such representations to go unchallenged.

Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “As an international NGO monitoring human rights and democracy in Tibet established in the US 26 years ago, we continue to encourage visits to Tibet by Members of Congress so that they can understand the situation inside Tibet and a have direct dialogue with Chinese authorities. But we also seek to encourage reciprocity in hosting such visits. The Chinese Government delegation can come to the US and Canada and speak freely, while the Chinese authorities continue to deny and restrict access to Tibet to American diplomats, journalists, tourists and students, according to their political agenda. The State Department had reported that its officials submitted more than 16 requests for diplomatic access to the Tibet Autonomous Region between May 2011 and November 2013, but only two were granted.”