New US Administration to be robust on Tibet vis-à-vis China

Secretary of State Mr Rex Tillerson with US President Donald Trump. (Photo courtesy: AP)
Secretary of State Mr Rex Tillerson with US President Donald Trump. (Photo courtesy: AP)

(, Feb03, 2017) – While the new US President Donald trump has been largely silent on issues like Tibet and human rights, his Secretary of State Mr Rex Tillerson has said he will commit to encourage dialogue on Tibet and to receive the Dalai Lama, according to Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) Feb 1. This was stated to be part of comments from Tillerson in response to written questions posed by members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Tillerson was confirmed for his post by the full Senate on Feb 1.

ICT said Secretary of State Tillerson had also expressed concern for the restrictions imposed by China on reporters, civil society actors, diplomats and others in accessing to Tibet, for the denial of visas to foreign journalists and the limitations to freedom of movement and information. Asked whether he would consider “problematic” the above-mentioned restrictions, when compared with the free access to the United States provided to Chinese officials and Chinese state-controlled media, Tillerson has responded in the affirmative.

Tillerson has vowed to make an assessment of US policy regarding the providing of visas to Chinese officials, and to adopt “the best policy, recognizing that reciprocity in treatment is a principal in bilateral relations.”

This referred to the “Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act” introduced in the last Congress.

Earlier, in a prepared statement for his confirmation hearing on Jan 11, Tillerson had criticized China on a number of key issues, saying it had “proven a willingness to act with abandon in pursuit of its own goals” and making it clear that “We have to deal with what we see, not with what we hope.”

Successive US administrations have continued to give concessions and refrained from taking action, hoping China will eventually come round to play by the rules to which it was committed and by which it had become the world’s second largest economy.

However, Tillerson also made it clear, “We should not let disagreements over other issues exclude areas for productive partnership,” noting that “the economic well-being of our two nations is deeply intertwined.”

On the issue of human rights, Mr Tillerson has said in his statement: “Supporting human rights in our foreign policy is a key component of clarifying to a watching world what America stands for,” adding, “We do not face an ‘either or’ choice on defending global human rights. Our values are our interests when it comes to human rights and humanitarian assistance.”


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