(TibetanReview.net, Nov19, 2015) – In further details on a visit to Tibet and China in the second week of this month by a delegation of seven US House democrats led by House Democrat and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, one prominent member has said there were “heated exchanges” with Chinese officials as the visitors called on Beijing to renew dialogue with Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, reported AP Nov 18.
The report cited Rep Jim McGovern as saying the visit was an important gesture by the Chinese government but “too often” the delegation heard characterizations of Tibet and the Dalai Lama that reflected old prejudices.
“I believe that the Dalai Lama is part of the solution, not the problem, to resolving the issues confronting Tibetan autonomy,” McGovern was quoted as saying, calling for genuine dialogue to address the concerns of Tibetans who are seeking more autonomy, the freedom to practice their Buddhist religion and preservation of their culture.
Reuters Nov 17 cited Pelosi as saying an opportunity existed to find “common ground” with Chinese authorities on Tibet. It cited her as saying that while Chinese President Xi Jinping had rejected independence for Tibet, the United States and the Dalai Lama only wanted autonomy.
“So if they (Chinese authorities) think it is about independence, he (Dalai Lama) says it’s about autonomy, we only support autonomy … then I think there is an opportunity to find common ground,” she was quoted as saying at a news conference.
McGovern has said the delegation only saw what Chinese officials wanted them to see in Tibet, but at Pelosi’s insistence, visited religious sites too.
He has said the delegation came away uncertain about what steps the Chinese government was willing to take on reconciliation in Tibet, but not feeling “the door was entirely closed to anything,” including to opening a US consulate in the regional capital of Lhasa.
“Some discussions were more heated than others and there were some discussions that I felt signaled openness to a constructive dialogue,” McGovern has added.
The AP report cited Pelosi as saying the delegation’s visit, which also included Hong Kong and Beijing, followed an invitation to “come see for yourself” when she raised congressional concerns over human rights with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the latter’s Washington visit in Sep 2015.