ICT calls for US leadership on Tibet during Xi Jinping visit; renewed Chinese-Tibetan dialogue and access to Tibet

The Board of Directors of the International Campaign for Tibet has written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging the U.S. government to use the opportunity of Vice President Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington to press for a change in Tibet.

In the letter, sent on February 7, 2012, the ICT Board wrote “We believe that new Chinese leadership has the potential and power to chart a Tibet policy that is not only a departure from decades of Chinese misrule in Tibet, but also recognizes the value in direct engagement with the Tibetan people as legitimate stakeholders in their own future. This engagement is necessitated by, and grounded in, the scope of long-standing U.S. Tibet policy as laid down by successive Administrations and Congress.”

The request comes as the crisis continues to escalate in Tibet. Chinese security forces have increased their presence in Tibetan town and monasteries, and cut Internet and telephone communications to prevent local Tibetan from providing details of the crackdown. Vice President Xi, who would set Tibet policy as the presumed next leader of the People’s Republic of China, is visiting Washington, DC, Iowa and Los Angeles.

To help diffuse the crisis and address Tibetans’ grievances, the ICT Board specifically recommends that the Obama Administration urge, through Vice President Xi, that the Chinese government:

  • restart dialogue with the Dalai Lama’s envoys, which would be viewed by the U.S. and the international community as a constructive response to the ongoing crisis, and would send a critical message to Tibetans inside Tibet, who would be encouraged to know that His Holiness the Dalai Lama remains in the picture; and
  • open Tibet to diplomats, journalists and other observers, and publicly call into question Chinese representations of Tibet until and unless international observers are allowed into Tibet to assess the veracity of Chinese claims.

The letter thanks the State Department for recent public comments on China’s “counter-productive policies” in Tibet, and asks President Obama to make a specific public reference to Tibet during the visit, consistent with his previous public comments to Chinese leaders.

The text of the letter follows:


February 7, 2012

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC20520

Dear Secretary Clinton:

We write to thank you and Under Secretary and Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Maria Otero for your statements in recent months on the ongoing crisis in Tibet. The Department’s remarks draw a clear picture that the “counterproductive policies” of the Chinese government imposed on the Tibetan people only serve to aggravate the situation in Tibet.

We are grateful the Department has indicated Tibet will be part of its agenda with Vice President Xi during his February visit to the United States. We believe that new Chinese leadership has the potential and power to chart a Tibet policy that is not only a departure from decades of Chinese misrule in Tibet, but also recognizes the value in direct engagement with the Tibetan people as legitimate stakeholders in their own future. This engagement is necessitated by, and grounded in, the scope of long-standing U.S. Tibet policy as laid down by successive Administrations and Congress.

In support of the Administration’s momentum on the Tibet issue, we urge two specific themes in your engagement with Vice President Xi on Tibet:

  • Dialogue: The United States should make the case to Vice President Xi that movement toward a new round of dialogue would be viewed by the U.S. and the international community as a constructive response to the ongoing crisis. It also would send a critical message to Tibetans inside Tibet, who would be encouraged to know that His Holiness the Dalai Lama remains in the picture.
  • The U.S.government should stress its belief that the Dalai Lama is sincere in seeking genuine autonomy within the People’s Republic of China. It should make clear to the Chinese government its support for the Dalai Lama’s long-standing democratization efforts.
  • Access: In spite of Under Secretary Otero’s reiteration of the call for Chinese authorities to open Tibet to diplomats, journalists and other observers, Chinese authorities have formally closed the Tibet Autonomous Region from February 20 to March 30, 2012. Other Tibetan areas are currently closed to outsiders. At the same time, China has launched a media offensive to blame, falsely, the Dalai Lama for inciting an otherwise content Tibetan population. This cannot go unchallenged.
  • The Administration should make a concerted effort to secure access to Tibetan areas. Ambassador Locke should specifically request to visit aggrieved towns in Kardze and Ngaba and senior U.S. officials should make a formal request to visit Tibet each time they visit China. We hope the Department will publicly call into question Chinese representations of Tibet until and unless international observers are allowed into Tibet to assess the veracity of Chinese claims.
  • Last, we urge the Department to continue to request Lhasa as the top priority for the next U.S. consulate in the People’s Republic of China.

Further, we ask that President Obama make a specific public reference to Tibet during the visit, consistent with his previous public comments to Chinese leaders, and that he will convey the seriousness with which the United States regards the current situation in Tibet.

The International Campaign for Tibet is encouraged that the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Switzerland, Poland, and the European Union have joined the United States in speaking out about the self-immolations and escalation of repression inside Tibet. The union of international voices on the situation reinforces the notion frequently expressed by President Obama that fundamental human rights are universal and in light of global trends, the prohibition of such rights is unsustainable.

We welcome and encourage the U.S.government to maintain a leadership role in this endeavor.

We hope the Administration will seize the opportunity of Vice President Xi’s visit to encourage the Chinese leadership to pursue this course of action in the interests of both the Chinese and Tibetan peoples, and in the very important context of the U.S.-Chinese relationship.

On behalf of the International Campaign for Tibet and its supporters, thank you again for the Administration’s effort on behalf of Tibet.

Respectfully,
Richard Gere

Richard Gere
Chairman of the Board of Directors,
on behalf of Board Executive Chairman Lodi Gyari, Board Vice Chairman Gare Smith, and fellow Board members John Ackerly, Ellen Bork, Pamela Cesak, Jim Kane, Marco Antonio Karam, Melissa Mathison, Keith Pitts, Steve Schroeder, and Grace Spring

 

Stay informed:
Get ICT’s latest reports and analysis: sign up for our e-mail list at savetibet.org/email »

, , ,