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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Assembly sidetracks Tibet resolution

March 19, 2009

By STEVE LAWRENCE Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press
March 17, 2009

SACRAMENTO -- After lobbying by Democratic leaders, the state
Assembly agreed Monday to sidetrack a resolution on Tibet that had
drawn strong opposition from the Chinese government.

Lawmakers voted 46-28, largely along party lines, to send the
resolution back to the Rules Committee, a step Republicans said would
kill it. They demanded a vote on the measure by the full Assembly.

"We need to allow democracy to take its course," said Assemblyman
Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine. "Anything less would be a travesty of justice
in this chamber."

The resolution, by Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo,
praises the Dalai Lama's "outstanding moral and religious
leadership." It declares March 10, the 50th anniversary of a Tibetan
uprising against Chinese rule, as Tibet Awareness Day.

Lawmakers approved a nearly identical resolution last year that was
carried by a Democrat. But Blakeslee's version ran into trouble after
the Chinese consul general in San Francisco wrote a letter to
lawmakers saying the resolution could damage Chinese-American relations.

Blakeslee said representatives of the consul general also came to
Sacramento to lobby against the resolution.

Last week, Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont, held
up the resolution, removing it from a list of supposedly
noncontroversial measures that were scheduled to be voted on as a group.

When Blakeslee tried to take up the resolution on Monday, Torrico
made a motion to send it to the Rules Committee.

"I'm not rising in either support or opposition of the resolution,"
Torrico said. "I'm rising to refer it to Rules because over the last
several weeks there have been a number of developments that have
raised concerns among Democrats and Republicans.

"If the Rules Committee adopts amendments ... and improves the bill,
it will return for full consideration of this body."

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, said the Legislature should
let the Obama administration deal with China and the situation in Tibet.

"We now have a new president who's committed to adopting new human
rights...," she said. "I believe we shouldn't undermine the president
and secretary of state and the proactive efforts they are pursuing."

But Blakeslee said the Legislature has approved resolutions taking
stands on foreign affairs many times before, and that the House of
Representatives, at the urging of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San
Francisco, had recently approved a much stronger resolution
criticizing the situation in Tibet.

"We need to ask ourselves, what is our price for silence?" Blakeslee
said. "Do we only stand to speak for those who are oppressed when
it's safe to do so?"

Torrico's motion initially fell four votes short of the simple
majority needed for approval, with five Democrats voting against it.

After Democrats caucused for more than an hour, Assemblyman Wes
Chesbro, D-Arcata, changed his mind and voted for the motion to send
the resolution to the committee. Eight Democrats who had abstained
then decided to support it.

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