As Barack Obama prepares for his summit with China’s President Hu Jintao on January 19, 39 Tibetan Associations, organizations and Tibet support groups are asking him to make Tibet a significant part of the agenda.
Mary Beth Markey, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, speaking about the summit, said “President Obama understands the Tibet problem as a trespass against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a challenge to China’s peaceful rise. He should use the opportunity of this summit to tell President Hu that a peaceful solution for Tibet is not only possible, but a prerequisite for China attaining the status and legitimacy it seeks.”
The International Campaign for Tibet was not the only Tibet-focused group to make its voice heard. Nine other human rights and China-specialist groups called for Mr. Obama to use the Chinese state visit as an opportunity to demonstrate the US commitment to human rights in China.
Chinese leaders have recently hardened their position on Tibet. Analysts say this is an attempt to force the issue past negotiation or discussion. This hardening of their stances comes as President Obama, Secretary Clinton and other U.S. officials have engages their Chinese counterparts on Tibet.
The 39 Tibet-related groups made their requests in a letter, noting that the U.S.’s “long-standing history of supporting the Tibetan people – creates an incumbent duty on this Administration to continue to raise the issue with Chinese leaders at the highest levels.”
The letter argues that China’s failed policies in Tibet have consequences far beyond the borders of the People’s Republic of China, citing Chinese dams on upper reaches of rivers that originate in Tibet and flow into neighboring countries as a potential source of regional instability. It also refers to the recent student protests against an official Chinese policy to subordinate instruction in the Tibetan language to Mandarin.
– ICT report
Tibetan-Americans are becoming increasingly vocal in the corridors of power in the US. “This letter also demonstrates the eagerness of new Tibetan-Americans to exercise their democratic rights and raise their political voices for Tibet,” ICT’s Mary Beth Markey said. “Tibetan-American communities, which have grown and prospered across the United States, now hold annual lobby activities in Congress and are determined to be heard in the Executive Branch as well.”