(TibetanReview.net, Nov17, 2015) – China has insisted Nov 16 that former US House Speaker and current minority leader Nancy Pelosi had praised it highly for its achievements in occupied Tibet while leading a delegation of seven US House Democrats to the region and China the week before. The claim, carried by its official usa.chinadaily.com.cn, was a response to skepticism expressed by mainstream US newspapers, including the New York Times and Washington Post, that Pelosi could have paid any such glowing tribute, as reported by the regional party mouthpiece Tibet Daily, on the issue given her known position on it.
Both the Times and the Post had disputed the authenticity of quotes attributed to Pelosi by Tibet Daily, on the basis of her past speeches on Tibet and China’s human rights record.
The Tibet Daily report had Pelosi saying: “Thanks to the efforts by the Chinese government, the living standards of Chinese people, including Tibetan people, have improved significantly. People all over the world have recognized this, and you have every reason to feel proud of this.” The report had also said: “Pelosi spoke highly of the great transformation in the new Tibet and the efforts by the Chinese government in guaranteeing freedom of religion, protecting ethnic tradition and culture and ecological environment.”
The usa.chinadaily.com.cn commentary suggested that Pelosi may have changed her view of China’s policy on Tibet after visiting the region. “It should not be surprising for anyone to change his or her views after a fact-finding trip, especially for the first time to a place as mysterious as Tibet,” said the commentator Chen Weihua writing from Washington.
However, in her official statement Nov 14 after the visit, Pelosi said her delegation had “expressed concerns regarding freedom of religion and expression for the Tibetan people; the preservation of Tibet’s unique cultural, religious and linguistic heritage; and diplomatic and public access to Tibet” while meeting with top Chinese leaders in Tibet. Those leaders included Party Secretary Mr Chen Quanguo, Vice Party Secretary Baima Chilin, and Party Secretary of Lhasa Qi Zhala. The statement also said the talks also focused on “the importance of respecting Tibet’s autonomy, its ecology, and the human rights and religious freedom of its diverse people”.
The statement also said the delegation expressed the same concerns while meeting with Chinese leaders in Beijing, including Premier Li Keqiang; National People’s Congress Chairman, Zhang Dejiang; and National People’s Congress Vice Chairman Zhang Ping. “The delegation reiterated the imperative of respect for religious freedom and expression in Tibet; …” the statement said.
The usa.chinadaily.com.cn commentary did acknowledge that Tibet Daily many not have quoted Pelosi’s speech in its entirety but claimed this is “often the case for almost all news media, Chinese and Western alike”. It insisted that Progress in Tibet, as Pelosi had seen, was just plain fact.