US Special envoy on Tibetan issues not optimistic for direct contact with China


US State Department Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Robert A. Destro.

(, Oct17’20) – Setting out his priorities as the newly appointed Special Coordinator on Tibetan issues of the United States government, Mr Robert Destro has said Oct 16 that he will engage with the Tibetan Community and like-minded governments and multilateral organizations to build support for the Tibetan cause and for the Dalai Lama and, secondarily, also to look at the humanitarian needs of all the refugees “and to see if we can help them out in a more practical way.”

Speaking in an interview with the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia (Washington), Destro has said, however, that trying to restart the dialogue between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and the Chinese government officials, which ended in 2009, was a major challenge.

“I am not optimistic that the dialogue will start anytime soon,” he has said, adding, however, “There are many ways to approach the issues.

“The dialogue doesn’t necessarily have to be directly through the State Department. In fact I think it’s less likely that it would be directly through the State Department. The idea is really to have them, and the question is how do we get that done when the Chinese government or the [Chinese Communist Party] believes it has the right to pick the next Dalai Lama. That is a very difficult thing to do. So I am not optimistic that we can get it started, but it doesn’t mean I am not going to try.”

Knowing the Chinese Communist Party’s attitude towards Tibet and Tibetans, he has spoken of focusing more on holding “consultation with the Tibetan Community, with the [exile government, the Central Tibetan Administration], with the Tibetan diaspora, and with like-minded governments who have an equal interest in the long-term survival of the Tibetan community both inside Tibet as well as in the diaspora.”

On China resolve to recognize the next Dalai Lama, Destro, who is also the Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in the State Department, has said, “The CCP can tell a religious leader how and under what circumstances he can reincarnate is actually quite amazing. It is the height of arrogance to say that any leader of a government should be able to tell a religious leader what their religious obligations are.”


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