Join our Mailing List

"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Does US delegation to Tibet signal new opening for Tibet?

November 16, 2015

By Zhuang Pinghui

South China Morning Post, November 14, 2015 - Beijing is changing its public tack on Tibetan affairs by giving a high-profile reception in the region to a US congressional delegation led by US House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, a long-standing critic of China's policies on human rights and ethnic minorities, analysts said yesterday.

Beijing was more at ease with engaging its critics while not changing its position on major issues on Tibet, such as separatism, the analysts said.

Sichuan University professor Luorongzandui, who knows members of the Chinese delegation that accompanied the US group, said Pelosi visited temples, schools and homes in Tibet, speaking to monks, nuns and residents. The itinerary was confirmed by both sides before the trip and the discussions covered "sensitive topics", he said.

Communist Party mouthpiece Tibet Daily said the US delegation met regional party secretary Chen Quanguo and chairman of Tibet's people's congress Padma Choling on Tuesday afternoon. The report cited Chen as saying that he hoped the United States would not support any separatist activities or allow the Dalai Lama to visit.

Asked about the report, Pelosi's spokesman Drew Hammill said: "The only thing we have been confirming is that they were in Lhasa from Monday through Wednesday. We have not offered any characterisation of the trip whatsoever."

Pelosi has been a frequent critic of China's human rights record, including meeting with the Dalai Lama and accusing Beijing of suppressing religious and cultural freedom. China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since 1950, when it was "peacefully liberated" by troops of the People's Liberation Army, and trips there by Western reporters and political figures are rare.

"Pelosi has been hearing negative views about Tibet in the US, but here she had extensive contact with monks, nuns and was able to see them conducting religious activities freely and how Tibet has changed," Luorongzandui said. "The central government is confident that Tibet has well developed under Beijing's rule and it has every confidence in presenting it to the outside world. It is not enough to do so with state media only."

News of the trip broke on Thursday when Pelosi met Zhang Ping, a vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission. Yesterday, Pelosi met Premier Li Keqiang , who called on China and the US to step up mutual cooperation.

Jiang Zhaoyong, a commentator on ethnic affairs, said the visit reflected attempts by Beijing to improve communication with the West. "Beijing is working to improve understanding by those who criticise China's policies on Tibet to let them have a personal look at Beijing's efforts and the well-being of the Tibetan people, even though they may well still criticise policies after the visit."

Additional reporting by Reuters

CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank