United States lawmakers, NGOs urge Trump to champion rights, Tibet issues with visiting Chinese president

U.S. President Donald Trump (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping during a bilateral meeting. (Photo courtesy: Radio Free Europe)
U.S. President Donald Trump (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping during a bilateral meeting. (Photo courtesy: Radio Free Europe)

(TibetanReview.net, Apr08, 2017) – Leaders from the US Senate and House of Representatives have, over Apr 4-5, asked President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to take up with the visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping the issue of human rights in China in general and especially the situation in Tibet during their meetings with him. They have expressed serious concern over the threat to Tibet’s cultural identity under Chinese rule.

Writing to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on democracy, human rights, and global women’s issues, have called on the US side to “urge China to do more to improve the cultural and spiritual plight of Tibetans, not just their economic status.”

They have asked the United States to “make human rights a top priority, both publicly and privately” in discussions between the two sides. In particular, the Senators have said, “The continued anguish of the Tibetan people and especially the series of self-immolations by young Tibetans are deeply distressing.”

They have pointed out that support for human freedom had existed across multiple administrations, both Democrat and Republican, and in lockstep with our partners around the world.

“The United States should not simply stand idly by as these universal rights are abrogated and the Chinese people suffer the consequences. A failure of US leadership on these issues is not a good message for the United States to send to China, our allies in the region, and the world,” the Senators have warned.

On Apr 5, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote to President Trump, saying, “violations of human rights in China and Tibet challenge the conscience of the world”. She warned that “if we do not speak out clearly for human rights in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out for human rights anyplace in the world.”

She also wrote: “President Xi’s government works to control and eliminate the Tibetan culture and religion, including through the gross mistreatment of nuns and monks and even the demolition of the Larung Gar monastery. The Dalai Lama is revered for his spirituality across the world, which has led the Chinese government to fear him and imprison those who express respect for him.”

Also on Apr 5, six US-based international human rights NGOs, including those campaigning for human rights in Tibet, Mongolia, and China, issued a joint appeal to President Trump and his administration, urging that their concerns and recommendations be shared, and clearly and strongly communicated to the Chinese side.

They wrote: “Any compromise in the expression of both advocacy for and solidarity with human rights defenders marks an erosion in American values and priorities rooted in democracy and freedom of expression.”

The joint appeal referred to the issues of intensified religious repression, failed ‘rule of law’, countering of China’s regressive influence, freedom of expression, and crackdowns on civil society. The groups urged President Trump to “publicly emphasize your support for these issues following the summit”.

Trump hosted Xi at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida over Apr 6-7 in their first meeting and summit.


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