Statement by the International Campaign for Tibet on the US-China Presidential Summit

The first summit between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping held on April 6 and 7, 2017, in the United States ended without any detailed announcement of the outcome. Addressing the media briefly between meetings, President Trump said, “I think we have made tremendous progress in our relationship with China” but no specifics were given. President Xi Jinping said, “(W)e have further built up understanding and established a kind of trust, and we have initially built up a working relationship and friendship.”

Following the summit, and in response to a question from the media on whether the Administration had spoken to the Chinese on human rights violations, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said:

“As to the discussions around human rights in China, I think America’s values are quite clear and they really occupied a core of all of our discussions. I don’t think you have to have a separate conversation, somehow separate our core values around human rights from our economic discussions, our military-to-military discussions, or our foreign policy discussions. They’re really embedded in every discussion, that that is really what guides much of our view around how we’re going to work together.”

“The International Campaign for Tibet will be closely monitoring the United States interaction with the Chinese government to see if the obligations established by the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 will be implemented,” said ICT President Matteo Mecacci. “We are all for wholesome US engagement with China, but it will be betrayal of America’s interests if we abandon the fundamental values of freedom, human rights, and democratic governance,” Mecacci added.

The Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 is the core legislative measure guiding U.S. policy toward Tibet and mandates that the Administration “support the aspirations of the Tibetan people to safeguard their distinct identity.”

The Tibetan Policy Act also calls for the appointment of a US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, whose responsibilities include the promotion of dialogue between the Dalai Lama’s envoys and the Chinese leadership and “pressing for improved respect for human rights”. The State Department has yet to see the nomination and appointment of Deputy Secretaries and Under Secretaries, one of whom could be designate the Special Coordinator on Tibet.

Since President Donald Trump’s assumption of the presidency in January 2017 and the beginning of the new session of Congress, members of Congress have been clear in conveying their continued support to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people in their quest to find a mutually beneficial solution for the future of Tibet. In addition to bi-partisan letters written to the Administration, including one by Leader Nancy Pelosi, a bipartisan and bicameral bill on Reciprocal Access to Tibet has been introduced by Representatives Jim McGovern and Randy Hultgren in the House and Senators Marco Rubio and Tammy Baldwin in the Senate.

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