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New Zealand PM urged to raise Tibet on Chinese VP visit

June 18, 2010

By Phurbu Thinley
Phayul
June 16, 2010

Dharamsala, June 15 -- New Zealand Tibet
campaigners have called on Prime Minister John
Key to raise Tibet issue when the Chinese vice
president pays a three-day state visit this week.

Chinese Vice President Mr Xi Jinping, the man
widely tipped to succeed the president Hu Jintao
in 2012, is visiting New Zealand from June 17 to 19, when he will meet Mr Key.

New Zealand's Friends of Tibet, in a statement
released today, urged the Mr key to "raise
concerns about the situation in Tibet" during their meeting.

"Specifically we call on him to ask Vice
President Xi to help to urge Hu Jintao to meet
the Dalai Lama in order to progress a genuine
solution to the occupation of Tibet," the statement said.

Xi Jinping is a senior member of the 5th
generation of Chinese leaders. He is a
"princeling", the son of Xi Zhongxun, a former
Vice Premier who supported Hu Yaobang's
progressive ideas, denounced the leadership's
handling of the Tiananmen Square protests and was
reportedly close to the 10th Panchen Lama of Tibet.

"Although Xi Jinping is currently thought to have
relatively little involvement in determining
China's policies in occupied Tibet, he attended
the recent 5th Work Forum on Tibet, and has the
opportunity if he becomes President to lead a
complete transformation in China's approach to
the Tibet issue," the statement said.

"We call on Xi Jinping to demonstrate that the
5th generation of leadership in China will herald
a new era for Tibet" said Thuten Kesang, the
national chairman of Friends of Tibet (NZ).

"We urge Mr Xi to show that he is his father's
son, and to ensure his place in the history
books, for the right reasons, by bringing China's
occupation of Tibet to an end. We also call on
Prime Minister Key to urge Mr Xi to pass a
message to Hu Jintao that it is time for him to meet the Dalai Lama."

"A lasting solution for Tibet suitable to both
sides will benefit China." Kesang said in the statement.

While little is known of Xi Jinping's opinions
about Tibet and human rights issues, he visited
Xinjiang in June 2009, soon after the protests
there, where he reportedly insisted that the
local party should appoint officials who could do
a better job of handling ethnic relations. Xi
also warned that they should solve the "real
difficulties" that Uighurs suffer in housing,
food, health, education and employment. (Read: Who is Xi Jinping?)

Like Hu Jintao in the run-up to his presidency,
Mr Xi is currently seen doing a lot of
international travel. This week alone he is
visiting Bangladesh, Laos, New Zealand and Australia.

Just last week, ahead of Xi's ongoing visit to
Bangladesh, a Bangladeshi Tibet activist and
social worker Wasfia Nazreen was reportedly harassed by the country's police.

Prime Minister John Key chose not to meet the
Dalai Lama during the latter's visit to New
Zealand in December last year, saying they had
met before and there was no need for another.

Mr Key, however, had denied being pressured by
China not to meet the Dalai Lama.

Meeting the Dalai Lama usually draws vehement
protests from Communist China, which sent
military troops to illegally occupy Tibet in 1949.

When the Dalai Lama was in New Zealand in 2007,
Key was then the leader of the opposition and had
"dropped in" on a meeting between the Tibetan
leader and his National Party foreign affairs
spokesman, now minister, Murray McCully.
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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