A high-ranking official in the Obama administration expressed regret at the Chinese government’s failure to engage in substantive dialogue with the Tibetans and warned China that its ‘counterproductive policies’ in Tibet will undermine efforts to maintain current social and economic development, July 13.
Speaking in the US capital, Maria Otero, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs reiterated President Obama’s belief that ‘the Dalai Lama can be a constructive partner for China’ and urged the Chinese government to engage in a substantive dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama.
“China’s engagement with the Dalai Lama, or his representatives, to resolve problems facing Tibetans is in the interests of the Chinese government and the Tibetan people,” she said at the Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC) Roundtable on “The Dalai Lama: What He Means For Tibetans Today”.
Drawing from her experience of meeting several Tibetans and travelling widely through Tibetan settlements in India and Nepal, Obama administration’s point man for Tibetan affairs said that young Tibetans see the Dalai Lama as a positive example and a source of wisdom and compassion.
Under Secretary Otero said US goals on Tibetan issues were twofold – first to promote substantive, result oriented dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives and second to help sustain Tibet’s unique religious, linguistic, and cultural heritages.
Communicating the US government’s commitment to support non-governmental organisations that work in ethnic Tibetan areas and assist Tibetan refugees in South Asia, Otero said that despite the ‘many challenges’ the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development will continue to support cultural preservation, sustainable development and environmental preservation in Tibet, as well as Tibetan refugee communities in other countries.
“At the end of this month, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s India Mission will issue an award for a new $2 million, two-year program to support Tibetan settlements in India, Nepal, and Bhutan”, Otero said.
“USAID anticipates the program will result in increased economic opportunities which will encourage youth to remain in the settlements, strengthen community ties, and preserve cultural and linguistic traditions.”
The US official said that the Obama administration was ‘extremely concerned’ about the ‘deteriorating human rights situation’ in Tibet.
“Recent regulations restricting Tibetan language education, strict controls over the practice of Tibetan Buddhism, the arrests of prominent non-political Tibetans and the heavy security presence reflect the difficult human rights situation there today,” Otero said adding that the forcible removal of monks from Kirti Monastery is also a cause for deep concern.