(TibetanReview.net, Mar18’19) – After the United States adopted a law demanding reciprocal access to Tibet for its citizens in Dec 2018, lawmakers in Europe have issued a call for a similar access to the tightly restricted Chinese ruled Himalayan territory. In the latest development on this issue, a total of 10 members of the European Parliament as well as 25 members of parliament from France, UK, Germany, Sweden and Belgium have issued a joint opinion piece on Mar 14, seeking the same level of access to Tibet for their diplomats, media and citizens as that enjoyed by their Chinese counterparts to Europe.
The piece, titled as “Time to rebalance EU-China relations and demand unfettered access to Tibet”, was carried by Euractiv.com, a European media platform specializing in online publication of articles focusing on European policymaking.
The opinion piece notes that six decades after the 1959 uprising in Tibet’s capital Lhasa, the situation had continued to remain critical while “awareness about the continuing plight of the Tibetan people under Chinese rule – including the tragic self-immolations of more than 150 Tibetans since 2009 – seems to have decreased in our countries.” The lawmakers have said it was high time that “we in Europe demand unfettered access to the region for our citizens in keeping with our values and in support of a more balanced relationship with China.”
The opinion piece says the lack of awareness was “largely due to the Chinese government’s efforts to prevent the full truth about its grave human rights abuses in Tibet from reaching the outside world by strictly controlling access to the area.”
The European lawmakers have expressed disappointment that “foreigners, including EU citizens, require a number of special authorisations and permits in addition to their Chinese visa to enter Tibet,” with those who do manage to get in being placed under the surveillance of government-appointed guides.
Besides, “foreign diplomats, parliamentarians, journalists and even UN officials are almost always denied visits to the region, other than on rare official tours carefully orchestrated by Chinese authorities,” they have said.
On the other hand, China does not hesitate to take advantage of the openness of the European countries to its citizens, diplomats and media “to influence our perceptions, including on Tibet”. They have accused Chinese authorities of “take advantage of our freedoms – freedoms they do not respect at home – while continuing to oppress the Tibetan people with complete impunity and discriminating against EU citizens.”
The lawmakers have noted that the European Parliament’s latest report on EU-China relations also recommended that reciprocity be strengthened in all areas of cooperation while calling for unfettered access to Tibet for EU citizens.