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"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."

New ICT policy paper released on eve of EU-China Summit

May 19, 2009

ICT Report
May 18, 2009

A new policy paper by the International Campaign
for Tibet, to be released today in Brussels,
calls upon the European Union to adopt a
consistent new position on Tibet to reflect the
importance of Tibet in EU-China relations. A
summary of the paper and details of the press
briefing today are included below.

The EU-China Summit opens in Prague on Wednesday,
May 20. This follows the cancellation of the last
summit by the Chinese government after French
President Sarkozy, then EU President, met the
Dalai Lama - an indication of the importance of
the Dalai Lama to the Chinese government in
determining its relationship with Europe. Since
then, Beijing has stepped up pressure on
individual European countries including the
Netherlands to block meetings between heads of
state, ministers and members of the Parliament
and the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama visits Europe
at the end of this month in a tour that includes
France, where will probably receive honorary
Paris citizenship, which is likely to intensify Beijing’s response.

Vincent Metten, EU Policy Director for ICT in
Brussels, said: "The cancellation of the last
EU-China Summit by Beijing during the French EU
Presidency raised the diplomatic stakes, pointing
both to the importance China attaches to the
Tibet issue and the need for a unified EU
response. To equivocate on Tibet as a result of
Chinese interference would be a strategic
mis-step in EU-China relations. The EU should
intensify its support for a resolution and assist
both sides, after 50 years of failed efforts, to
remove obstacles and move forward.”

The policy document to be released by the
International Campaign for Tibet in Brussels calls upon the EU to:

* Coordinate national positions and define a clear EU line in support of Tibet

* Adopt a common position on future visits of the Dalai Lama in Europe

* Actively and concretely promote China-Tibetan negotiations

* Utilize all appropriate UN forums to press the
government of China on the situation in Tibet and
increase international coordination and cooperation

* Detailed recommendations included in ICT¹s new
Policy Paper, ‘11th EU-China Summit:  A revived
EU Policy on Tibet’ have been sent to the
President of the European Council, the President
of the European Commission, the High
Representative for Common Foreign and Security
Policy and to Foreign Affairs Ministers of EU
Member States, who are meeting today in Brussels.
The Policy Paper can be downloaded today from
ICT’s website, http://www.savetibet.org/ .

An inconclusive talking shop and China’s divide
and rule: why Europe needs to do more on Tibet

Summary of ICT’s policy paper

The EU-China Summit opening on Wednesday (May 20)
in Prague is the first high-level meeting of EU
and Chinese leaders since China cancelled the
last summit in December, citing the decision of
then EU President Nicolas Sarkozy to meet the
Dalai Lama in Poland a few days later. It takes
place in an environment in which several European
countries are under intense pressure from Beijing
due to the arrival of exiled Tibetan leader the
Dalai Lama later this month, in a visit that
takes in Denmark, the Netherlands and France.

The lack of cohesion among European member states
on the issue of Tibet and conflicting national
approaches, especially on protocols for meeting
with the Dalai Lama, is not in EU interests
because it weakens EU leverage and has left some
countries vulnerable as targets for Chinese government pressure.

By threatening reprisals against EU countries
whose leaders welcome or meet with the Dalai
Lama, the Chinese government undermines its own
position against interference in the “internal
affairs” of another country, and contravenes European values.

The EU’s approach to China assumes that under the
influence of positive engagement, the Chinese
government will liberalise its economy and move
towards democratization. But as the European
Parliament has noted, Europe’s deepened economic
and trade relations with China have not been
accompanied by any progress on human rights. The
EU’s position under-estimates China’s ability to
use its engagement with the EU to its own ends
and its determination to block criticism of its
policies in Tibet and human rights. Countries
within the EU have consistently miscalculated in
making concessions to China that are not
reciprocated, such as the decision by the UK to
redefine its historic relationship with Tibet last year.

The EU-China relationship is critical; it has
replaced the US as China’s largest trading
partner, and its voice is increasingly important
as a catalyst for encouraging China to become a better global citizen.

Beijing has subverted and politicized
international forums where its human rights
record has been challenged and refused to answer
legitimate questions from European governments
about the use of lethal force against unarmed
protestors or the welfare of individual
detainees. The Chinese government has also sought
to contain all discussion on Tibet to the
official human rights dialogue and behind closed
doors diplomacy. But without adequate benchmarks
for progress, the dialogue is an inconclusive
talking shop, and privately expressed concern by
EU member states is more effective when accompanied by clear public statements.

The reality on the ground is that for more than a
year, the Chinese government has engaged in a
comprehensive cover-up of torture, disappearances
and killings that have taken place across Tibet
in response to a series of overwhelmingly
peaceful protests against Chinese rule. This is
combined with a virulent propaganda offensive
against the exiled Tibetan leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama has demonstrated a consistent
position and a good faith approach to dialogue
with Beijing, which has now ground to a halt. The
Tibetan side has shown a rigor in addressing key
issues and in framing its position in terms of
the Chinese Constitution and Chinese laws.
Various major governments and parliaments have
shown an interest in moving the dialogue forward
to a mutually acceptable conclusion. But the
efforts undertaken so far by the EU Council and
its 27 member states and by the European
Commission are insufficient to address the
situation in Tibet, despite the range of policy
options at their disposal. The EU’s position on
Tibet has generally been one of ambiguity and
accommodation, even in the face of gross human rights violations.

On support for Tibet in Europe, the Chinese
government is taking a bullying approach that
exposes mismatched values, rather than elevating
the relationship. The EU approach should be
unified, advanced multilaterally, and framed in
the context of common interests.  To continue to
equivocate on Tibet, after so many years of
support to the Dalai Lama, would be a significant
historic and moral mis-step, and against European interests.

Press briefing on ICT Policy Paper in Brussels, May 18, 2009

Venue: Résidence Palace (Schuman) -- Room Passage, Brussels Time: 2-3 pm

Speakers: Vincent Metten, EU Policy Director for
ICT in Brussels, will introduce the recommendations to the EU

Ngawang Sangdrol, a former nun who was tortured
and imprisoned for 11 years for peaceful dissent
in Tibet, will give new information on the
current crisis in Tibet including details of
Tibetans currently in prison. Also present will
be several other former Tibetan former political
prisoners, known as the “singing nuns” after they
sang songs about Tibetan freedom in prison.

Details: Ngawang Sangdrol, 32, was imprisoned in
1992 for peacefully demonstrating against the
Chinese occupation of Tibet. Her sentence was
extended repeatedly for continued protest in
prison, which included recording a tape of
freedom songs with 13 other nuns from Drapchi
prison that was smuggled out of Tibet. As a
result of intense international pressure her
sentence was commuted to 11 years from her
original 23-year sentence and she was released in
October 2002. Ngawang Sangdrol's life story is
featured in at least two documentaries and one
book, La prisonnière de Lhassa (Philippe
Broussard and Danielle Laeng, Stock, 2001).

Press contact:

Vincent Metten
EU Policy Director
Tel: +32 2 609 44 10
Cell: +32 473 99 04 40
Vincent.metten@save-tibet.eu
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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