US’s Pelosi voiced sup­port for Dalai Lama dur­ing China visit

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

SHANG­HAI: Ti­bet’s ex­iled spir­i­tual leader, the Dalai Lama, en­joys strong sup­port in the United States, Demo­cratic leader Nancy Pelosi told Chi­nese of­fi­cials dur­ing a visit this week to the Hi­malayan re­gion, while ex­press­ing con­cern about hu­man rights there.

Pelosi, a long-time critic of China’s hu­man rights record, was lead­ing a se­nior US Con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion on a rare visit to Ti­bet, which China has ruled with an iron fist since 1950, when it was “peace­fully lib­er­ated” by com­mu­nist forces. The del­e­ga­tion met se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing com­mu­nist party boss Chen Quan­guo, Pelosi said in a state­ment. “The del­e­ga­tion re­it­er­ated the im­per­a­tive of re­spect for re­li­gious free­dom and ex­pres­sion in Ti­bet,” she added.

“We also con­veyed to the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials the strong, bi­par­ti­san sup­port the Dalai Lama en­joys in the Congress of the United States and among the Amer­i­can peo­ple.”

The del­e­ga­tion, the first Con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties have al­lowed to en­ter Ti­bet since wide­spread un­rest in 2008, also ex­pressed con­cern over the re­cent ar­rests and de­ten­tions of hu­man rights lawyers and activists in China. “Amer­ica has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to stand up for hu­man rights at home and abroad,” said Jim McGovern, the chair­man of a Congress Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion, who ac­com­pa­nied Pelosi.

“Hu­man rights in China, and Ti­bet in par­tic­u­lar, con­tinue to be an area of grave con­cern,” he said in a state­ment. The of­fi­cial Ti­bet Daily had said Pelosi praised the huge changes that had taken place in Ti­bet and the hard work of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment in pro­tect­ing re­li­gious free­dom and cul­tural prac­tices.

China’s For­eign Min­istry has de­scribed the Ti­bet visit, which was not for­mally an­nounced ahead of time, as “a nor­mal ex­change be­tween the US and Chi­nese leg­is­la­tures”.

Rights groups and exiles say China tram­ples on the cul­tural and re­li­gious rights of Ti­bet’s Bud­dhist peo­ple. China de­nies this, say­ing it has brought much needed de­vel­op­ment to what was a back­ward re­gion. Pelosi has reg­u­larly spo­ken out about hu­man rights is­sues in Ti­bet and has met the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing re­viles as a vi­o­lent sep­a­ratist. The No­bel peace lau­re­ate says he sim­ply wants real au­ton­omy for Ti­bet. — Reuters

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