Obama Administration Statements on Tibet
Summary of Obama Administration Statements on Tibet
›› For statements made directly in response to the Tibet immolations and the crisis at Kirti Monastery, please refer to our fact sheet, available here.
September 27, 2012
State Department Background Briefing
Readout of the Secretary [Clinton]'s Meeting With Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi
The Secretary, as she always does, raised human rights concerns – notably in this particular meeting, concerns about Tibet and increasing pace of immolations. They talked about bilateral economic relations and the global financial situation.
September 12, 2012
Remarks by Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor, White House
International Religious Freedom Conference
In China, government policies in Tibetan areas threaten the distinct religious, cultural and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people, creating tensions and contributing to a situation where dozens of desperate Tibetans have resorted to self-immolation.
In Asia, China continues to outlaw and imprison the worshippers of religious and spiritual groups, including unregistered Christian churches and Tibetan Buddhists.
September 11, 2012
Remarks by Robert O. Blake, Jr., Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, in Kathmandu, Nepal
I have had a busy and productive visit. I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Bhattarai, Nepali Congress Vice President Ram Chandra Poudel, CPN-UML Chairman Khanal, Maoist Chairman Prachanda, Chief of Army Staff Rana, business leaders, and members of the Tibetan community as well as civil society.
Last but not least, Nepal has been a generous host to Tibetan refugees for more than 50 years. Nepal’s commitment to the protection of Tibetan refugees, both those in the long-staying community and new arrivals transiting to India, has earned Nepal international respect. We believe strongly that Tibetan refugees, like all people, deserve to lead lives of dignity and purpose.
With respect to the gentleman’s agreement, I think Nepal has had a good record of observing the gentleman’s agreement, and as I said, we had a chance to discuss that again today. We think that there is room for the government to do more to help regularize the status of the longer-term Tibetan community that is here, by, for example, providing them documentation that would allow them to get jobs, to travel, and so forth. So again, that was a subject of our discussions.
Well, first of all, the United States takes an active interest in refugees around the world. We’re one of the most generous donors with respect to refugees. We have a very active program not only here in Nepal, but around the world. In South Asia, we’ve devoted a great deal of time and attention to the refugee situation, the IDP situation in Sri Lanka, to the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, so these are always very high on our list. But certainly the status of Tibetan refugees is also a very important consideration for us, as is the status of the Bhutanese refugees.
January 9, 2012
Remarks by Maria Otero, Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights
Opening Remarks at the Forum on Himalayan Glacier Melt: Global and Regional Challenges
Good morning, everyone. Welcome, and thank you very much for joining us for this Forum on Himalayan Glacier Melt.
As many of you know, Secretary Clinton has made water a priority for the Department and USAID. As she has said, water “represents one of the great development opportunities of our time. Perhaps no two issues are more important to human health, economic development, and peace and security than basic sanitation and access to sustainable supplies of water.”
The Tibetan Plateau, the Himalayas, and the downstream basins are a region where water issues profoundly impact almost every aspect of life for the people living there -- from food and energy security, to health, livelihoods, and culture.
In Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, China, India, and Nepal, large portions of populations live in poverty and face varying levels of water scarcity and food insecurity.
The high Himalayan region – the source of many of Asia’s major rivers – is the freshwater tower of South Asia, and is one of the most dynamic, fragile, and complex mountain systems in the world. Often called the Third Pole, it has the highest concentration of snow and glaciers outside the polar regions.
Meltwater from the snow and glaciers feeds the ten largest river systems in Asia, which together support about 1.3 billion people in their downstream basin areas. But the glaciers in much of the region show signs of shrinking, thinning, and retreating.
As the United States Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, I have watched with particular concern this shifting landscape on the Tibetan Plateau--and the impact it is having on the people there.
We are here today to discuss this important issue: the melting of Himalayan glaciers, the impact it will have on the lives of the people in the region, and the approaches that we in the global community can take to understand and address these challenges.
We are fortunate to have a distinguished panel of speakers, which will be moderated by my colleague and friend Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. And I would like to thank Deputy Assistant Secretary Geoffrey Pyatt, UN Assistant Secretary General Dr. Ajay Chhibber, and Dr. Alton Byers of the Mountain Institute for joining our panel today.
Evidence shows that the retreat of glaciers in many locations of the world has accelerated in recent decades. In fact, glaciologists say that nearly sixty-five percent of Himalayan glaciers are receding. The region faces:
- shifting weather patterns,
- the potential for more frequent and intense droughts and floods,
- and the threat of glacial lake outburst floods.
Such environmental threats are not confined to sovereign borders, making regional cooperation all the more important.
As communities and countries adapt to the changing environment, they are using a wide variety of tools, both simple and complex -- from fog-catching nets in Nepal to man-made glaciers in northern India.
Indeed, the manner in which the people and governments of Asia adapt is as diverse as the millions of people who inhabit the region. So we need to share information and work together to advance further research.
You will hear today about a number of examples of U.S. support to the region, including by strengthening information collection and sharing. In all of our work, we have tried to build the capacity of local organizations.
For example, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, a Nepal-based regional knowledge development and learning center, is partnering with NASA on the use of satellite-based products to better understand hydrologic processes in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya river basins. This Center also is working in collaboration with NASA and USAID on integrating satellite and other geospatial data for improved scientific knowledge and decision-making by governments, researchers, students, and the general public.
It’s important to remember that other regions of the world also are struggling with these same problems, and may have vital experience to share. In September of last year, the State Department, USAID, and the Adaptation Partnership worked in collaboration with partners including The Mountain Institute to host an innovative conference that increased opportunities for exchange and collaboration among Andean, Central Asian, and local scientists, graduate students, and policymakers.
These are just a few of our efforts that show that the United States and the global community take the consequences of increased glacial melting in the Himalayan region seriously. We recognize that the communities in this region are facing increasing challenges, and we are determined to understand and help meet these challenges. That is why we are here today.
So please, enjoy the film, and what promises to be a most stimulating panel discussion. And let me thank you again for coming and for your dedication to this important work.
December 10, 2011
Statement by U.S. Ambassador to China Gary F. Locke
On the Occasion of International Human Rights Day
While China has undoubtedly made great strides in developing its economy, the imprisonment of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo and restrictions on the freedoms of his spouse Liu Xia, the illegal “disappearing” of Gao Zhisheng, the unlawful detention of Chinese citizens such as lawyer Chen Guangcheng, and constraints on the religious freedom and practices of Tibetan, Uighur and Christian communities do not bring China closer to achieving its stated goals.
There is much work to be done by all governments to fully live up to the principles that all persons are created free and equal in dignity and rights. Today, I urge the People’s Republic of China to uphold its commitments to the Universal Declaration.
November 10, 2011
Remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
East-West Center, Honolulu, HI
We have made very clear our serious concerns about China’s record on human rights. When we see reports of lawyers, artists, and others who are detained or disappeared, the United States speaks up both publicly and privately. We are alarmed by recent incidents in Tibet of young people lighting themselves on fire in desperate acts of protest, as well as the continued house arrest of the Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng. We continue to call on China to embrace a different path.
November 3, 2011
Statement of Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, and Commissioner, Congressional-Executive Commission on China U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Hearing on Congressional-Executive Commission on China: 2011 Annual Report
Chairman Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Member Berman, and esteemed members of the Committee, thank you for calling this hearing today on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China’s 2011 Annual Report.
I would like to congratulate Chairman Smith, Cochairman Brown and my fellow members of the Commission on an excellent report. I especially would like to recognize the Commission’s staff for their fine work, expertise and diligence. The work of the Commission, including its published reporting and its Political Prisoner Database, is a tremendous resource, and I am honored to serve as a Commissioner. Political prisoners and human rights advocates cited in the 2011 annual report include rights defender Chen Guangcheng, lawyers Jiang Tianyong and Gao Zhisheng, Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, journalist Memetjan Abdulla, bishop Su Zhimin, labor advocate Zhao Dongmin, Tibetan nomad Ronggyal Adrag, monk Choeying Khedrub, former monk Jigme Gyatso, and many others. Shining a light on human rights in China and particularly on conditions in Tibetan areas is always important, and certainly could not be more important than it is at the present time.
As U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, I would like to draw attention to a number of the Commission’s findings on Tibet. Over the last year, Tibetans who peacefully expressed disagreement with government policy faced increased risk of punishment, as the Chinese government continued to criminalize such expression under the guise of “safeguarding social stability.” The Chinese government also substantially increased state infringement of freedom of religion in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries. Government security and judicial officials detained and imprisoned Tibetan writers, artists, intellectuals, and cultural advocates who lamented or criticized government policies.
In July, when I participated on the Commission’s panel, “The Dalai Lama: What He Means for Tibetans Today,” I noted my deep concern with the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas of China, and specifically with the abuse and forcible removal of monks from Kirti Monastery and the heavy security presence there. The recent self-immolations of young Tibetans, many of whom have been affiliated with Kirti Monastery, are desperate acts that reflect intense frustration with human rights conditions, including religious freedom, inside China. The Commission has thoroughly documented the policies that many believe have created escalating tensions and a growing sense of isolation and despair among Tibetans. These policies include dramatically expanded government controls on religious life and practice, ongoing “patriotic education” campaigns within monasteries that require monks to denounce the Dalai Lama, increasingly intensive surveillance, arbitrary detentions and disappearances of hundreds of monks, and restrictions on and imprisonment of some families and friends of self-immolators.
The U.S. government repeatedly has urged the Chinese government to address its counterproductive policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions and that threaten the unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people. Senior State Department officials have consistently and directly raised with the Chinese government the issue of Tibetan self-immolations. We have urged the Chinese government to allow access to Tibetan areas for journalists, diplomats and other observers. We also have asked the Chinese government to resume substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives. When President Obama met with the Dalai Lama at the White House in July, the President stressed that he encourages direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences and that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans.
I have had the honor of meeting several times with the Dalai Lama, and I also have had the opportunity to speak with Tibetans who live in China, and in India and Nepal. The U.S. government believes that the Dalai Lama can be a constructive partner for China in dealing with the challenge of resolving continuing tensions in Tibetan areas. The Obama Administration hopes that Chinese leaders will pursue substantive dialogue to resolve remaining differences and provide all Chinese citizens with peace, prosperity, and genuine stability.
July 16, 2011
President Barack Obama
Statement from the Press Secretary on the President’s Meeting with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama
The President met this morning at the White House with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. The President reiterated his strong support for the preservation of the unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions of Tibet and the Tibetan people throughout the world. He underscored the importance of the protection of human rights of Tibetans in China. The President commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to nonviolence and dialogue with China and his pursuit of the “Middle Way” approach. Reiterating the U.S. policy that Tibet is a part of the People’s Republic of China and the United States does not support independence for Tibet, the President stressed that he encourages direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences and that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans. The President stressed the importance he attaches to building a U.S.-China cooperative partnership. The Dalai Lama stated that he is not seeking independence for Tibet and hopes that dialogue between his representatives and the Chinese government can soon resume.
July 13, 2011
Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero
Congressional Executive Commission on China
Roundtable on "The Dalai Lama: What He Means For Tibetans Today"
Thank you, Senator Brown, other Commission Members and staff for convening this roundtable. It’s my pleasure to be able to participate today for the first time as a Commissioner and to make brief remarks on the Dalai Lama as the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues.
I have had the honor of meeting several times with the Dalai Lama as an internationally recognized religious leader and Nobel Laureate. I have also had an opportunity to speak with Tibetan Buddhists in remote settlements in India and with new arrivals and long staying Tibetan refugees in Nepal. I have learned that for many of them, the Dalai Lama is the earthly manifestation of the living Buddha. To young Tibetans, I have seen that the Dalai Lama is a positive example of how to make the world a better place, and is a source of wisdom and compassion in their personal lives.
The Dalai Lama’s views are widely reflected within Tibetan society, and command the respect of the vast majority of Tibetans. The U.S. government believes that the Dalai Lama can be a constructive partner for China, particularly as it deals with the challenge of resolving continuing tensions in Tibetan areas. His consistent advocacy of non-violence is an important factor in reaching an eventual lasting solution. China’s engagement with the Dalai Lama, or his representatives, to resolve problems facing Tibetans is in the interests of the Chinese government and the Tibetan people. We believe failure to address these problems and reexamine existing, counterproductive policies will exacerbate already existing tensions that could, in turn, undermine China’s efforts to maintain its current social and economic development.
The Administration’s goals on Tibetan issues are twofold. First, it is to promote a substantive, results oriented dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives. Second, it is to help sustain Tibet’s unique religious, linguistic, and cultural heritages. The Administration at all levels – from the President, Secretary, Assistant Secretaries, to myself – has urged the Chinese Government to engage in a dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama. We remind the Chinese government that the vast majority of Tibetans advocate non-violent solutions to Tibetan issues and genuine autonomy – not independence or sovereignty – in order to preserve Tibet’s unique culture, religion and its fragile environment. Regrettably, the Chinese government has not engaged in a substantive dialogue with the Tibetans since January 2010.
I want to take this opportunity to briefly mention some of our concerns and ongoing activities. We are extremely concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in China and in particular in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other ethnic Tibetan areas in neighboring provinces. Recent regulations restricting Tibetan language education, strict controls over the practice of Tibetan Buddhism, the arrests of prominent non-political Tibetans, and the heavy security presence reflect the difficult human rights situation there today. The forcible removal of monks from Kirti Monastery is also a cause for deep concern.
Despite many challenges, we are committed to continuing our long-standing support for non-governmental organizations that work in ethnic Tibetan areas and assist Tibetan refugees in South Asia. Both the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development support cultural and linguistic preservation, sustainable development and environmental preservation in Tibet and Tibetan majority areas, as well as Tibetan refugee communities in other countries, through numerous programs. In addition, the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration continues its long-standing support for Tibetan refugees through ongoing support to non-governmental organizations as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In fiscal year 2010, $3.5 million was provided to support reception services, education, healthcare, and water and sanitation for Tibetan refugees in South Asia, including new arrivals from China.
At the end of this month, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s India Mission will issue an award for a new $2 million, two-year program to support Tibetan settlements in India, Nepal, and Bhutan. The new program will support the development of organic agriculture for selected Tibetan settlements in India, Nepal, and Bhutan; and provide vocational training to Tibetan youth remaining in the settlements. USAID anticipates the program will result in increased economic opportunities which will encourage youth to remain in the settlements, strengthen community ties, and preserve cultural and linguistic traditions. Strengthening Tibetan communities and preserving their extraordinary cultural and religious traditions have been at the center of the Dalai Lama’s work.
The Dalai Lama celebrated his 76th birthday last week in Washington, joined by thousands of Tibetans. While he is still vigorous and healthy, it is my great hope that Chinese leaders will seize this opportunity to pursue a substantive dialogue to resolve remaining differences and provide the next generation of Tibetans and Chinese with peace, prosperity, and genuine stability.
June 2, 2011
Testimony: Daniel Baer, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Testimony before the House Forign Affairs Committee
Thank you, Madam Chairwoman and members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, for inviting me today. It’s my pleasure to be able to testify today on religious freedom, democracy and human rights as embodied in the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002. On behalf of Under Secretary of State Maria Otero, the Administration’s Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, I can tell you that the Department of State is aggressively implementing the provisions of the Act.
The Administration’s goals are twofold: to promote a substantive dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives, and to help sustain Tibet’s unique religious, linguistic, and cultural heritages. The Administration at all levels – from the President, Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Under Secretary Otero, Assistant Secretaries Campbell and Posner, to myself – has urged the Chinese Government to engage in a dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama that will achieve results. We remind the Chinese government that the vast majority of Tibetans advocate non-violent solutions to Tibetan issues and genuine autonomy – not independence or sovereignty – in order to preserve Tibet’s unique culture, religion and its fragile environment. Regrettably, the Chinese government has not engaged in a substantive dialogue with the Tibetans since January 2010.
The U.S. Government believes that the Dalai Lama can be a constructive partner for China as it deals with the challenge of overcoming continuing tensions in Tibetan areas. The Dalai Lama’s views are widely reflected within Tibetan society, and command the respect of the vast majority of Tibetans. His consistent advocacy of non-violence is an important factor in reaching an eventual lasting solution. China’s engagement with the Dalai Lama or his representatives to resolve problems facing Tibetans is in the interests of the Chinese government and the Tibetan people. We believe failure to address these problems could lead to greater tensions inside China and could be an impediment to China’s social and economic development.
Another critical avenue for implementing the Act is our support for non-governmental organizations that work in Tibet and assist Tibetan refugees in the region. Both the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) support cultural and linguistic preservation, sustainable development and environmental preservation in Tibet and Tibetan majority areas, as well as Tibetan refugee communities in other countries, through numerous programs. In addition, the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration continues its long-standing support for Tibetan refugees through ongoing support to non-governmental organizations as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In fiscal year 2010, $3.5 million was provided to support reception services, education, healthcare, and water and sanitation for Tibetan refugees in South Asia, including new arrivals from China. Under Secretary Otero recently visited our programs in India and Nepal where we assist Tibetan refugees, and where we are actively seeking ways to strengthen Tibetan refugee settlements.
The U.S. Agency for International Development’s India Mission expects to issue an award for a new $2 million, two-year program to support Tibetan settlements in India, Nepal, and Bhutan in July 2011. The new program will support the development of organic agriculture for selected Tibetan settlements in India, Nepal, and Bhutan; and build a workforce among Tibetan youth remaining in the settlements. USAID anticipates the program will result in increased economic opportunities which will encourage youth to remain in the settlements, strengthen community ties, and preserve cultural and linguistic traditions.
We are extremely concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in China and in particular in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas. Recent regulations restricting Tibetan language education, strict controls over the practice of Tibetan Buddhism and the arrests of prominent non-political Tibetans reflect the difficult human rights situation there today.
Religious restrictions in Tibetan areas have dramatically worsened in recent years. Discriminatory religious policies exacerbated tensions between Han Chinese and Tibetan Buddhists and triggered the 2008 riots that claimed the lives of Han and Tibetan civilians and police officers. Chinese authorities control Tibet’s monasteries, including the number of monks and nuns and interfere in the process of recognizing reincarnate lamas. Monks and nuns are forced to attend regular political “patriotic education” sessions which sometimes include forced denunciations of the Dalai Lama. . Reports state that as many as 300 monks were forcibly removed from Kirti again in April of this year, and paramilitary forces still have the monastery on lockdown. To date, we have no further information about the welfare and whereabouts of those monks that were removed.
The effects of China’s Tibet policies are well-documented in the separate Tibet sections of the State Department’s 2010 International Religious Freedom Report and the 2010 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in China, released by Secretary Clinton on April 8. Our reports state clearly that the Chinese government represses freedom of speech, religion, association and movement within Tibet and routinely commits serious human rights abuses including extrajudicial killings and detentions, arbitrary arrests and torture. Our reports also reference the forcible return of three Tibetans to China from Nepal in June 2010, the first confirmed case of forcible return of Tibetans from Nepal since 2003.
The Administration’s engagement on human rights issues in Tibet is high-level and consistent. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have spoken on these points directly to Chinese officials many times, including to President Hu during his January 2011 visit to Washington. The President and Secretary Clinton met with the Dalai Lama in February 2010, and the Secretary raised Tibetan issues directly and at length during the 2010 and 2011 Strategic and Economic Dialogues with China. Undersecretary Otero has met with the Dalai Lama four times since October 2009, and with his special envoy, Lodi Gyari, nine times in the past twelve months. Other senior officials have engaged Mr. Gyari as well.
During the April 2011 Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing, Assistant Secretary Posner and I raised our concerns about China’s counterproductive policies in Tibetan areas of China, reiterated our call for a resumption of dialogue, and raised specific cases. We were joined in that effort by then-Ambassador Huntsman, who visited the Tibetan Autonomous Region in September 2010. The U.S. Mission in China has made visiting Tibetan areas and engaging on human rights and religious freedom in Tibetan areas a top priority. While in Beijing in April, we met with United Front Work Department, which handles Tibet policy for the Chinese Government, and pressed the Chinese to set a date with Lodi Gyari for the next round of talks. We also met with Minister Wang Zuo’an [WONG ZHUO AHN] from the State Administration of Religious Affairs. Separately, we provided to Chinese authorities a comprehensive list of individuals from across China who have been arrested or are missing; that list included many Tibetans, including six cases that we specifically mentioned in our meetings.
Our goals – to promote a substantive dialogue between the Chinese Government and the representatives of the Dalai Lama, and to help sustain Tibet’s unique religious, linguistic and cultural heritages – are designed to further the intent of the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 and create a more stable and more prosperous Tibet where Chinese authorities recognize and foster internationally recognized human rights. In furtherance of our goals, we have, since 2005, made the establishment of a consulate in Lhasa a priority. We continue to press the Chinese government to answer our request, while we reiterate our long-standing interest in regular and comprehensive access to Tibetan areas for international diplomats, journalists and non-governmental organizations. The State Department offers Tibetan language courses at our Foreign Service Institute and our staff at Consulate General Chengdu includes Tibetan speaking staff. In addition, we are working to translate our human rights and religious freedom reports into the Tibetan language. These measures reflect the Administration’s continuing commitment to fully and effectively implement the Act, so that Tibet’s unique culture and environment are preserved and allowed to prosper in the 21st century.
May 26, 2011
U.S. Ambassador-designate Gary Locke answers questions on Tibet
Questions for the Record Submitted to Ambassador - Designate Gary Locke by Senator James Inhofe Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Tibetans have been enduring an intensifying crackdown since March 2008, exemplified by the crisis at Kirti monastery in Sichuan province. Last month, the monastery was forcibly taken over by security forces; 25 monks remain in detention; 300 other monks have been taken away for “patriotic education"; and two laypeople were killed by security forces. Will you commit to travel to Tibetan areas, including beyond Lhasa, to seek accurate information in these closed-off areas, and to advocate for the religious, cultural and human rights of Tibetans?
The Department of State has urged China to relax restrictions on movements of U.S. government officials, journalists, and Tibetan pilgrims to and from Tibetan regions. Travel to Tibetan areas, including outside of Lhasa, is an important priority for our Embassy in Beijing, and, if confirmed, I will continue to press to have an opportunity to do so.
Will you continue efforts to establish a US consulate in Lhasa, which was established by the State Department as a priority in 2008?
The United States and China currently have six diplomatic posts in the other’s country. Future post openings are subject to host government agreement, per the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and our bilateral agreement with China.
The Department sent diplomatic notes in 2008, expressing reciprocal interest in expanding U.S. diplomatic presence in China, with Lhasa at the top of the U.S. list. To date, the Chinese have not responded. The Department remains committed to pursuing a post in Lhasa as a priority, and if confirmed I will continue to work on this objective.
Will you work with the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues and her office to ensure that US policy and communications to the Chinese government are consistent and respect the long-standing two track US policy of (1) supporting dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama and his representatives; and (2) supporting efforts to preserve the unique cultural, religious and linguistic heritage of the Tibetan people?
If confirmed, I will work closely with the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues and her office to ensure that Tibetan issues are raised frequently and candidly with China’s leaders. The Department of State is deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Tibetan areas and by the lack of progress during nine rounds of talks between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama’s representatives. If confirmed, in consultation with the Special Coordinator, I will support further dialogue between China and the representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve concerns and differences, including the preservation of the religious, linguistic and cultural identity of the Tibetan people.
I am troubled with the across-the-board restrictions and policy of selective access that China has applied to travel within China by U.S. diplomats and visiting US. Chinese officials have the ability to travel anywhere they want in the U.S., and have the freedom to engage in a broad range of Chinese cultural promotion activities on American soil.
Will you push for greater freedom of movement for U.S. diplomats in China, including travel to “sensitive” areas such as Tibetan areas and East Turkestan?
I will continue to advocate for greater freedom of movement for U.S. diplomats everywhere in China. The United States can only generate accurate information on developments in China by traveling frequently to all parts of the country and engaging with the people there. With the notable and unfortunate exception of Tibet and some Tibetan areas at “sensitive” times, Embassy officers generally face few restrictions on travel within China. However, they are generally unable to meet with provincial and local Chinese officials or institutions (including universities) unless they obtain approval from the Foreign Ministry and its local offices. U.S. diplomats regularly visit the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and Tibetan areas outside of the Tibet Autonomous Region to advance the full range of U.S. interests in those areas – particularly the safety and welfare of U.S. citizens. Chargé d’Affaires Robert Wang visited Xinjiang in May. None of these visits were officially approved, and hence U.S. diplomats could not engage with provincial and local officials or universities during their visits.
Travel to the Tibet Autonomous Region is restricted by the Chinese government, and our official visits are approved on a case-by-case basis and then only rarely. Although then - Ambassador Huntsman was allowed to travel there in September 2010, many other requests have been denied. Visits to Tibetan areas of Sichuan are often denied on the ground by local police although the area is open in principle. This is a serious problem that I will seek to address. The U.S. government has long pressed for free and full access to the Tibet Autonomous Region for American diplomats and also for members of Congress and foreign journalists. If confirmed, I will continue to raise this issue at high levels.
April 28, 2011
Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
(Responding to questions at a press conference following the April 27-28 U.S.-China human rights dialogue)
This is an opportunity, more than those occasions, for us to have an in-depth discussion. A detailed discussion about journalists, about bloggers, about religious issues, about what's happening in Tibet, what's happening with the Uighurs. We went into great detail, both talking about patterns that we see of concern, but also raising cases as illustrative of the broader patterns.
On the question of concrete outcomes, I view this as, as I said earlier, part of a broader process. I think one concrete outcome is that we had extensive discussions about the range of issues that I outlined -- religious freedom and Tibet and the Uighurs and issues relating to arrests of lawyers and journalists and so forth. We had more time to go into more detail and express our concerns.
April 19, 2011
Mark C. Toner, Acting State Department Deputy Spokesperson
(In response to a question about whether Tibet will come up as an issue at the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue)
I mean, we’ve raised -- I know you raised the monastery here in this briefing room and we expressed our concerns about that. We’ve also talked about the recent trend of arrests and detainments of -- or detentions of various civil rights or human rights activists in China. All that is -- will be part of that dialogue.
April 15, 2011
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
In China, the government crackdown on unregistered house churches and the Christians who worship there, and just this week we have new reports that Chinese authorities sealed off a Tibetan monastery in Sichuan with barbed wire and armed guards with the monks trapped inside.
April 14, 2011
Mark C. Toner, Acting State Department Deputy Spokesperson
(In response to a question about the Chinese security crackdown at the Kirti Monastery in Ngaba)
Yeah. Well, we have seen that Chinese security forces have cordoned off the Kirti monastery in SichuanProvince. They’ve also imposed onerous restrictions on the monks and the general public, and we believe these are inconsistent with internationally recognized principles of religious freedom and human rights. We continue to monitor the situation closely and are obviously concerned by it.
Yes. I believe we’ve raised it with the Chinese, as we would raise any human rights concerns.
March 8, 2011
Robert O. Blake, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs
I am delighted to be speaking at the first annual Tibet Environmental Forum. Thank you, Maria Otero, for your leadership and for inviting me to say a few words about the importance of the Tibetan Plateau, and how we in the SCA bureau are attempting to mitigate the impacts of glacier melt across the region. Let me also extend my thanks to all of you here today for your important work preserving Tibetan culture, religion and environment, as well as your assistance to Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal.
The Himalayan glaciers in the Tibetan plateau provide fresh water for over 1.5 billion people across Asia. The glaciers feed nine river basins, including the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra, which support thousands of communities, villages and cities across Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
But climate change and pollutants like black carbon, have put many Himalayan glaciers in retreat, and some will certainly be lost by the end of this century. Glacial retreat impacts water supplies to millions of people, increases the likelihood of outburst floods that destroy life and property, and contributes to rising sea levels, which threaten coastal communities.
As glaciers become smaller, water runoff decreases, which is especially important during the dry season when other water sources are limited. Climate change also brings warmer temperatures and earlier water runoff from glaciers. This combined with spring and summer rains can increase the chance of flooding.
Across South Asia water is critical to health and development. But the growing scarcity of water can also exacerbate existing border disputes, making proper management of this scarce resource even more critical.
My bureau, working together with Under Secretary Otero and the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science, is developing programs and partnerships with governments in the region to promote the deployment of clean, low-carbon energy technology – which often reduces the consumption of water by the power sector – and to reduce emissions of black carbon from cement plants.
We are also working to foster transboundary cooperation and improve water management systems. Through our efforts we aim to conserve this important resource and improve the lives of millions of South Asians. Your work in the plateau is a vital piece of this effort.
Experts predict that by 2025 nearly two-thirds of the world’s countries will be water-stressed – which is defined as demand for water exceeding availability, or when poor quality water restricts its use. This problem is even more pressing in Asia. India, for example, is expected to be water stressed by 2020, just nine years from now, which could limit the growth of India’s economy and global standing. To address India’s growing water crisis, our embassy in New Delhi hosted a forum last week entitled “Water Issues in India: Opportunities and Challenges.” More than 110 government, NGO, academic and corporate representatives met to discuss and prioritize actions needed to advance practical solutions. Topics ranged from traditional methods of water harvesting to financing infrastructure and public private partnerships.
In January, our South Asia regional environment hub, based out of Embassy Kathmandu, partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to host the Eastern Himalayas Regional Workshop on Forests and Climate Change. Forests in the Eastern Himalayas provide livelihoods for millions of people. Participants from Nepal, Bhutan and India all affirmed that climate change impacts the entire region, and they stressed that information sharing on snowfall and glacial melt trends is crucial to managing the region’s forests. In Nepal, our USAID and NASA colleagues have also partnered to establish an earth observation monitoring and visualization system for the Himalayas. This system will provide a clearer picture of water supply and demand for the region and facilitate efforts to adapt to climate change.
Your work on preserving the culture and environment of the Tibetan Plateau is key to all of our efforts. I look forward to finding ways to coordinate and collaborate on our mutual efforts.
February 24, 2011
U.S. Ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer
(During a visit to the Dharamsala to dedicate the new TibetanRefugeeReceptionCenter and visit the Dalai Lama)
India is a model for the generous support and hospitality it has shown to Tibetan refugees over several decades. We are pleased that America can contribute to this important effort.
(In joint press conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao)
I reaffirmed America’s fundamental commitment to the universal rights of all people. That includes basic human rights like freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association and demonstration, and of religion -- rights that are recognized in the Chinese constitution. As I’ve said before, the United States speaks up for these freedoms and the dignity of every human being, not only because it’s part of who we are as Americans, but we do so because we believe that by upholding these universal rights, all nations, including China, will ultimately be more prosperous and successful.
So, today, we’ve agreed to move ahead with our formal dialogue on human rights. We’ve agreed to new exchanges to advance the rule of law. And even as we, the United States, recognize that Tibet is part of the People’s Republic of China, the United States continues to support further dialogue between the government of China and the representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve concerns and differences, including the preservation of the religious and cultural identity of the Tibetan people.
January 14, 2011
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
America will continue to speak out and to press China when it censors bloggers and imprisons activists; when religious believers, particularly those in unregistered groups, are denied full freedom of worship; when lawyers and legal advocates are sent to prison simply for representing clients who challenge the government’s positions; and when some, like Chen Guangcheng, are persecuted even after they are released. So in our discussions with Chinese officials, we reiterate our call for the release of Liu Xiaobo and the many other political prisoners in China, including those under house arrest and those enduring enforced disappearances, such as Gao Zhisheng. We urge China to protect the rights of minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang; the rights of all people to express themselves and worship freely; and the rights of civil society and religious organizations to advocate their positions within a framework of the rule of law. And we believe strongly that those who advocate peacefully for reform within the constitution, such as the Charter 08 signatories, should not be harassed or prosecuted.
September 20, 2010
James Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State
Our policy on Tibet is that we have engaged very intensively with the Chinese in support of building a dialogue more directly between the Dalai Lama and Tibetans and the government in Beijing. I think ultimately these issues have to be resolved between dialogue between the two of them. We don't think these are issues that outsiders can resolve.
So we have strongly encouraged that. We've encouraged that within the framework of what is the political perspective of the United States, which is to recognize that Tibet is a part of China, but that there are important religious and cultural issues there that should be addressed, and that part of the broader commitments to human rights and respect for religion that the United States believes in everywhere. So we think within the framework of dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama as represented is the best way to try to address those issues. (As quoted by Press Trust of India)
May 11, 2010
James Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State
On Tibet, we reaffirmed our position that we do consider Tibet to be a part of the PRC and do not support independence for Tibet, but we strongly support continued dialogue between the Chinese government and the representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve the differences.
February 18, 2010
Statement from the Press Secretary on the President's Meeting with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama
The President met this morning at the White House with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. The President stated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China. The President commended the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” approach, his commitment to nonviolence and his pursuit of dialogue with the Chinese government. The President stressed that he has consistently encouraged both sides to engage in direct dialogue to resolve differences and was pleased to hear about the recent resumption of talks. The President and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of a positive and cooperative relationship between the United States and China.
February 11, 2010
Robert Gibbs, White House Press Secretary, press briefing
Secondly, on February 18th, the President will meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The meeting will take place in the Map Room here at the White House. The Dalai Lama is an internationally respected religious leader and spokesman for Tibetan rights. And the President looks forward to an engaging and constructive dialogue.
No President has met with the Dalai Lama in the Oval Office.
February 2, 2010
Bill Burton, Deputy White House Press Secretary, press gaggle
The President told China leaders -- China's leaders during his trip last year that he would meet with the Dalai Lama, and he intends to do so. The Dalai Lama is an internationally respected religious and cultural leader, and the President will meet with him in that capacity.
To be clear, the U.S. considers Tibet to be a part of China. We have human rights concerns about the treatment of Tibetans. We urge the government of China to protect the unique cultural and religious traditions of Tibet.
As the President has expressed, we expect that our relationship with China is mature enough where we can work on issues of mutual concern, such as climate, the global economy, and nonproliferation, and discuss frankly and candidly those issues where we disagree. The President is committed to building a positive, comprehensive, and cooperative relationship with China.
November 17, 2009
Joint Press Statement by President Obama and President Hu of China
[President Obama:] As President Hu indicated, the United States respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. And once again, we have reaffirmed our strong commitment to a one-China policy. We did note that while we recognize that Tibet is part of the People's Republic of China, the United States supports the early resumption of dialogue between the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve any concerns and differences that the two sides may have.
November 17, 2009
Jeffrey Bader, Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, press briefing
They discussed Tibet. The President -- you saw in the joint press conference, the President referred -- the joint press conference, the President referred explicitly to the importance of protection of freedom of religion and the rights of ethnic minorities, and then immediately discussed the importance of a resumption of a dialogue between the Dalai Lama and representatives -- the Dalai Lama's representatives and the Chinese government. That was a deliberate and a clear statement of the priority the President places on this, and it was discussed privately, as well -- the President making clear his respect for the Dalai Lama as a cultural and religious leader, and his intention to meet with the Dalai Lama at an appropriate time.
September 9, 2009
Ian Kelly, State Department Spokesman, response to press question
We have immense respect for the Dalai Lama. He is one of the leading spiritual
figures in the world, and we have always encouraged a more open exchange between China and the Dalai Lama and his followers. I don’t – I’m not aware of any specific plans for the Dalai Lama to go back to Tibet, so I can’t comment on how we would stand on it right now. But we do encourage more dialogue.
July 23, 2009
Gov. Jon Huntsman, Ambassador-designate to China, responses to questions submitted at confirmation hearing before Senate Foreign Relations Committee
(1) The United States recognizes Tibet as part of China. At the same time, we are very concerned about the violence that erupted in Tibetan areas in March 2008, and the subsequent increase in repressive policies in such areas. We raise our concerns about these issues at the highest levels with the Chinese Government and continually press for progress. We urge China’s leaders to address the underlying political, economic, cultural, and religious concerns of its Tibetan citizens to build long-term stability in the region.
The United States has not been shy in seeking opportunities to raise candidly with China’s leaders our concerns about the poor human rights situation in Tibet. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have discussed Tibet issues with China’s most senior officials, and, if I am confirmed, I will do the same with my Chinese counterparts. We will also encourage the Tibetans to pursue dialogue with the Chinese and identify areas where substantive improvements to the lives of Tibetans can be achieved.
I see dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama’s representatives as essential for resolving longstanding tensions in Tibetan areas of China and for safeguarding the distinct ethnic, cultural, and religious identity of the Tibetan people. If I am confirmed, I will work to sustain our focus on promoting substantive dialogue, directed at achieving meaningful results.
(2) I look forward to robust engagement with China on human rights, and if confirmed, I will not be shy in seeking opportunities to raise candidly with China’s leaders U.S. concerns about the poor human rights situation for Tibetans and Uighur Muslims. In addition to expressing candidly our concerns regarding individual cases, it will be my objective to find new and constructive ways to support the peaceful efforts of Chinese citizens, including Tibetans and Uighurs, to strengthen civil society and the rule of law in their own country. I believe that much can be achieved through dynamic public diplomacy, people-to-people exchanges, and other programs designed to assist China to implement the rule of law, support the development of civil society, promote religious freedom, and improve policies to protect the unique languages, cultures and religions of China’s ethnic minorities.
With respect to the ethnic tensions that have erupted in Tibetan areas of China and in Xinjiang over the past year, one of my priorities, if confirmed, will be to encourage my Chinese counterparts to address the underlying political, economic, cultural, and religious concerns of Tibetans and Uighur Muslims to build long-term stability in these regions.
June 25, 2009
Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs-designate, response to question submitted at confirmation hearing before Senate Foreign Relations Committee
The Administration is disappointed by the lack of progress during eight rounds of talks between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama’s representatives. The United States is also very concerned about the increased repression in Tibetan areas since March 2008. We raise our concerns about these issues at the highest levels with the Chinese Government and press for progress.
The Administration sees the talks between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama’s representatives as essential for resolving longstanding tensions in Tibetan areas of China and for safeguarding the distinct ethnic, cultural, and religious identity of the Tibetan people. We will sustain our focus on promoting substantive dialogue, directed at achieving meaningful results.
The Administration will not shy away from seeking opportunities to candidly raise with China’s leaders our concerns about the dialogue as well as the poor human rights situation in Tibet. We will also continue to press for unhindered access to Tibetan areas by domestic and foreign journalists and diplomats, and for accountability regarding Chinese government actions taken during the unrest last year.
President Obama and Secretary Clinton have discussed Tibet issues with China’s most senior officials. Likewise, U.S. officials will also encourage the Tibetans to pursue dialogue with the Chinese and to identify areas where substantive improvements to the lives of Tibetans can be achieved. Secretary Clinton and Yang Jiechi agreed that we will hold a round of our bilateral Human Rights Dialogue this year – this will give us an additional opportunity to discuss our concerns about the situation for Tibetans in China.
Additionally, we will continue to urge the Chinese government to engage in substantive dialogue with representatives of the Dalai Lama as this holds out the best hope for progress in addressing the legitimate, longstanding concerns of Tibetans, which have been a key factor in recent unrest.
June 10, 2009
Kurt M. Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs-designate (since confirmed), response to question submitted at confirmation hearing before Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Encouraging respect for human rights, including minority rights and religious freedom in all areas, including Tibet, is a top priority in our bilateral engagement with China. Secretary Clinton said in Beijing during her trip to Asia in February that the promotion of human rights is an essential aspect of U.S. global foreign policy. In engaging China on a broad range of challenges, we will have frank discussions on issues where we have disagreements, including human rights, Tibet, religious freedom, and freedom of expression. Secretary Clinton has pointed out that our candid discussions are part of our approach, and that human rights is part of our comprehensive agenda.
We will not shy away from seeking opportunities to raise candidly with China’s leaders our concerns about the poor human rights situation in Tibet. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have discussed Tibet issues with China’s most senior officials, and I will do the same. Likewise, we will also encourage the Tibetans to pursue dialogue with the Chinese and identify areas where substantive improvements to the lives of Tibetans can realistically be achieved.
This administration sees the talks between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama’s representatives as essential for resolving longstanding tensions in Tibetan areas of China and for safeguarding the distinct ethnic, cultural, and religious identity of the Tibetan people. We will sustain our focus on promoting substantive dialogue, directed at achieving meaningful results.
Secretary Clinton fully intends to appoint someone of stature to the position of Tibet Coordinator.
June 7, 2009
Secretary Hillary Clinton on “This Week with George Stephanopolous”
We have made very clear, time and time again, our concerns about religious freedom in China, treatment of Tibet, Tibetan culture. So that is — we’re on the record with that. We’ve had these, you know, very strong statements that we’ve made historically, going back years.
And so of course we want everyone to know that we still feel very strongly about it, but we also would like to see if there is some way we could actually chip away at Chinese resistance to providing some more at least cultural and religious autonomy for Tibetans. So we — it’s a constant weighing process.
You know, I think a lot of times the public statements can turn out to be counterproductive. They can harden positions. Yet at the same time, the public statements can hearten those who are the dissidents. So trying to keep that in balance so that we don’t ever turn our backs on those who are struggling for the very rights that we believe in so strongly and that we think are universal rights, and yet looking for ways that we can actually get results, not just score debating points or, you know, have somebody say, “Good for you. You made a strong statement.”
So what we’re trying to do — and I think you hear it from what the president and I have been saying over the last four months — is to really focus in on where we can make progress.
April 2, 2009
Background readout by senior Administration officials on President Obama’s meeting with President Hu Jintao of China
Senior Administration Official: “They also discussed human rights and Tibet.”
“On Tibet, President -- the President said that it's -- that human rights are an essential aspect, central component, of U.S. foreign policy; that we are going to speak frankly about differences as well as about areas of cooperation.
“But this is an area of difference. He expressed concern over the human rights situation in Tibet. He recognized that -- you know, stated our view that Tibet is a part of China, but that we are concerned from a human rights point of view, and said he hoped that there would be progress in dialogue between the Dalai Lama's representatives in China to address these concerns.”
March 12, 2009
Readout on the President's Meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi
White House press release: “On human rights, the President noted that the promotion of human rights is an essential aspect of U.S. global foreign policy. The President expressed his hope there would be progress in the dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama’s representatives.”
March 10, 2009
50th Anniversary of Tibetan Uprising
Robert Wood, Acting Department Spokesman, Department of State: “Today marks the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising. The United States respects the territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China and considers Tibet to be part of China. At the same time, we are deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Tibetan areas.
We described those concerns in our just-released Annual Country Report on human rights practices in China. We concluded that China’s Government has acted against global human rights standards by significantly increasing cultural and religious repression in Tibetan areas.
We urge China to reconsider its policies in Tibet that have created tensions due to their harmful impact on Tibetan religion, culture, and livelihoods. We believe that substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama’s representatives, consistent with the Dalai Lama’s commitment to disclaiming any intention to seek sovereignty or independence for Tibet, can lead to progress in bringing about solutions and can help achieve true and lasting stability in Tibet.”
February 20, 2009
Secretary Hillary Clinton, comments on eve of visit to China
Secretary Clinton: "Now, that doesn't mean that questions of Taiwan, Tibet, human rights, the whole range of challenges that we often engage on with the Chinese, are not part of the agenda," Clinton told reporters in Seoul before flying to Beijing. "But we pretty much know what they are going to say.
"We have to continue to press them but our pressing on those issues can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crises,"
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