The Dalai Lama is the best hope for stability in Tibet, US Congressional committee tells Xi

A Tibetan raises slogans outside the White House where President Obama and Vice President Xi were holding talks, February 14, 2012.

DHARAMSHALA, February 15: Coinciding with the White House meeting between US President Barack Obama and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, the Chairmen of the bipartisan US Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) in a release yesterday called on Xi to recognise that the Dalai Lama “remains the best hope for restoring stability to Tibet”.

"Instead of condemning the Dalai Lama, Vice President Xi should recognise that the Dalai Lama remains the best hope for restoring stability to Tibet and guaranteeing the genuine autonomy that is the right of Tibetans," Cochairman Senator Sherrod Brown said.

Representative Chris Smith, Chairman of the Commission and Cochairman Brown noted at least 20 Tibetan self-immolations reported to have taken place since March 2011, ongoing repression against Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and controls on freedom of religion. 

"Officials have refused to address the underlying repressive policies against Tibetans' religion, culture, and language that have likely contributed to this unprecedented tragedy. Instead, they reportedly have fired on Tibetan protesters, tightened security even further, and closed off Tibetan areas to the outside world," said Chairman Smith. 

Calling on the visiting Chinese Vice President to take “concrete steps to improve human rights and the rule of law in China,” the CECC expressed “fervent hope” that Xi reverses the “course of his predecessors” and ushers in “positive changes” in China.

“But we remain extremely concerned, as the run-up to Vice President Xi becoming the next leader of China has been accompanied by one of the worst crackdowns in recent memory," said the CECC Chairman.

The Chairs noted that China’s expanding trade relations through China's membership in the WTO appear to have given China's leaders “greater confidence to trample on the rights of its citizens and dash any hopes for democratic reform." 

The Commission's chairs called on Vice President Xi to release all political prisoners and guarantee all Chinese citizens the freedom of expression, religion, and assembly and to pursue policies that protect the fundamental rights of Tibetans, Uyghurs, and other ethnic minorities.

In a special report released last December, CECC had pointed at a correlation between the worsening trend of religious repression in Tibet and the fiery wave of self-immolations in Tibet.

In its report, the CECC demonstrated an “apparent correlation between increasing Chinese Communist Party and government repression of freedom of religion in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries” and the growing number of Tibetans resorting to self-immolation as a form of protest against the Chinese government.

CECC noted that China’s heavy-handed reaction to the popular 2008 Tibetan uprisings – including intensification of its long-established anti-Dalai Lama campaign; issuing regulatory measures that intrude upon and micromanage Tibetan Buddhist monastic affairs; implementing aggressive "legal education" to monks and nuns – significantly “worsened” the deteriorating human rights trend in Tibet.

The US Congress created the CECC in October 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China, and to submit an annual report to the President and the Congress.

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