Why China must talk to the Dalai Lama
8 March, 2002
US Congressional hearing on “U.S. Policy Considerations in Tibet”
The United States on Thursday warned China it risked fanning resistance in Tibet and was harming its global reputation by refusing to launch a dialogue with his Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The State Department’s Tibet coordinator, Paula Dobriansky, told a congressional hearing – also featuring Chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet, Richard Gere – that resolution of the Tibet issue would remove a “major impediment to further US engagement with China”.
But she bemoaned the “grave” human rights climate fostered by Beijing in the region, which Chinese leaders view as an integral part of the country.
Undersecretary Dobriansky advised Beijing that it had no choice but to talk to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
“The Dalai Lama can be an asset to the difficult challenge of regional and national stability,” Dobriansky told a hearing of the international relations committee of the House of Representatives.
“He indisputably represents the opinion of most Tibetans and his moral authority transcends Tibetan interests.”
“If the Chinese government fails to engage with the Dalai Lama, who vigorously seeks dialogue and a mutual solution, Tibetan resistance could intensify and the potential for political upheaval could grow,” added Dobriansky.
Congressman Henry Hyde (R-IL), who is Chairman of the House International Relations Committee and who chaired the hearing, said that “We – and the world – will continue to voice our concerns regarding conditions in Tibet and to press for the resolution of current and future disputes in a manner that promotes the interests of the people of Tibet as they themselves define those interests. To do so is not interference; it is our duty”. He stressed that such efforts would “contribute to a just and lasting solution” to the Tibet issue.
Addressing the House International Relations Committee on Tibet, Gyari Lodi Gyaltsen, Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, stressed the China’s leaders need to engage His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the interest of both the Tibetan and Chinese people. He also urged the United States Congress to continue strengthen its support to the Dalai Lama in his efforts to resolve the issue of Tibet through dialogue with the Chinese leadership.
Richard Gere said that China was running out of time to take advantage of what he called His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s unrivalled ability to unite Tibetans.
“We have said it over and over and over again; the Dalai Lama is the solution to the problem,” said Gere, who testified at the hearing.
“It is extremely important that while the Dalai Lama is still with us, he is given the energy and support from democracies and human rights organisations around the world to do whatever he has to do to create a lasting peace and a solution to the problem.”