Dharamshala: The US ambassador to China urged Beijing to engage in substantive dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama or his representatives without preconditions to seek a settlement that resolves differences, the US embassy reportedly said last weekend.
US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad was hosted by Beijing for a rare weeklong visit to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and the Qinghai province, originally the Tibetan province of Amdo last week, from 19 to 25 May.
What was a desperate attempt by China to project a favourable image of its six decades of draconian rule over Tibet, and to showcase “earth-shaking changes in the people’s production and life since Tibet’s peaceful liberation more than 60 years ago” which the Chinese foreign ministry hoped Amb. Branstad to witness, the visit shed a more urgent light on China’s constant assault on Tibetan Buddhist civilisation and restricted access to Tibet.
Post the visit to TAR and Amdo, Ambassador Branstad not only urged China to engage in dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, but he also criticised the Chinese government’s interference in Tibetan Buddhists’ freedom to practice their religion and raised “long-standing concerns about the lack of consistent access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region.”
Ambassador Terry Branstad expressed concerns regarding the Chinese government’s interference in Tibetan Buddhists’ freedom to organise and practise their religion” and “also raised long-standing concerns about the lack of consistent access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region, said the official statement issued by the US embassy.
“The three concerns raised by Ambassador Branstad from his recent visit to Tibet are reasonable and valid concerns that reflect the truth of the situation inside Tibet. Instead of dismissing these grave concerns as “foreign interference”, China should show responsibility and address the violations of human rights, religious freedom and lack of access to Tibet,” Secretary Tsewang Gyalpo Arya, Department of Information said, in his comments to Tibet.net.
“Until the grave human rights abuses in Tibet are addressed, the Chinese government’s claim to be the rightful ruling government of Tibet remains illegitimate. I urge the Chinese leadership to engage in the dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his envoys at the soonest and find a lasting solution to the Tibet issue.”
Amb. Branstad’s trip to Tibet is the first to the region by an American envoy in four years.
The visit comes on heels of 32 US members of Congress urging President Trump to implement key legislation including the 2018 Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, that calls for ban on access for Chinese government officials responsible for restricting access for US journalists, diplomats, tourists, and citizens, including Tibetan Americans to Tibet; and the Tibet Policy Act of 2002 that urges the president of the United States to encourage dialogue between Beijing and representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to resolve the Tibetan issue.
China’s six-decade rule in Tibet has been defined by systematic annihilation of the cultural heritage of Tibet with the destruction of Tibetan Buddhism and religious traditions, language, cultural practices and traditional way of life, social marginalization, second-class citizenship in their own land, exploitation of the poor and of the environment and discriminatory policies undermining the Tibetan language. 153 Tibetans have resorted to self-immolation in a desperate call for human rights and political reform in Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.