By Tenzin Dolker
Voting for Joe Biden is both politically smart for the future of Tibet and the world and it is also a moral duty for the Tibetan community in America. Joe Biden will be a strong advocate for Tibet and he will lead with moral principles we admire as Tibetans.
First, I voted for Biden because he will keep his promises to Tibet and also meet His Holiness Dalai Lama. In September Joe Biden made his strongest statement yet on Tibet, saying his administration will “stand up for the people of Tibet.” Biden says, “I will work with our allies in pressing Beijing to return to direct dialogue with the representatives of the Tibetan people”, further adding, “ to achieve meaningful autonomy, respect for human rights, and the preservation of Tibet’s environment as well as its unique cultural, linguistic and religious traditions.”
In 2016, the Obama-Biden administration welcomed His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the White House. Joe Biden has also committed to doing so as President, saying “I’ll meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, [and] appoint a new Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues.” Since President George H.W. Bush, every U.S. President has met the Dalai Lama, until Donald Trump. Not only has Trump avoided meeting His Holiness, he waited nearly four years to appoint a Special Coordinator for Tibet, and demoted the position from Under Secretary to Assistant Secretary. We must remember that this announcement also came only 20 days before the election as he tries to hide his complete failure and inaction on Tibet.
Second, I voted for Biden because he will account China through an international rules based system. The current administration cozied up to Xi Jiping saying “we love each other” for most of his presidency, even praising Xi for power grab that extended his premiership to lifetime. Biden on the other hand made strong statements to account China on Tibet, stating: “My administration will sanction Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses in Tibet.” Biden will call on China to “restore access to Tibet for U.S. citizens, including our diplomats and journalists.” Further, Biden will support the Tibetan people by “expanding Tibetan language services at Radio Free Asia and Voice of America to get information from the outside world into Tibet.” These are all welcoming news for Tibetans and we must ensure that Biden truly lives up to these promises for Tibet.
Third, Biden will lead the US and world with moral principles that underpin the Tibetan struggle. Trump on the other hand violates all of them. His Holiness has led the Tibet movement in the past 60 years with compassion, and a call for truth and justice. His teachings and politics are deeply influenced by Tibetan Buddhist philosophy as well as his life as a Tibetan refugee. Our movement’s greatest power and asset is our truth and plight for justice. We have everything to lose and Trump has everything to gain. Supporting Trump will only diminish our own moral standing in the world that we have won with blood, sweat, and tears over three generations. We can not, and must not trade our hard-won moral battle for truth, the groundwork laid by our ancestors and elders, for a photo op with an administration that has a corrupt and authoritarian track record. Trump’s policies have brought so much pain and suffering to countless innocent children, women, and families all across the US and world, while our mother earth burns with the climate disaster’s grave effects on Tibet’s fragile ecosystem. As Tibetans we can not be complicit, we must act to right the wrongs of this administration and move this country and an uncertain world forward. And it starts with voting for Joe Biden.
Finally, I remind everyone to judge the current president on his track record, which has been four years of inactions for Tibet. Do not let Trump’s desperate tactics and fear mongering of China through its “sledgehammer” diplomacy lose sight of our long term fight. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is one of the few remaining global elders alive who has met and engaged with numerous leaders of the 20th century, including US President Franklin Roosevelt, who led America and the world out of the Great Depression and ushered in a new world order based on international cooperation. We must listen deeply and act accordingly when His Holiness says: “Trump has no moral principle.” “America first, that is wrong. America should take global responsibility.” Joe Biden on the other hand will not abandon but take this important responsibility for our world and that also includes Tibet.
Your vote is your power. Please go to www.iwillvote.com and make your plan to vote for Joe Biden and democrat up and down the ballot in person or drop off at mail in ballot box.
(Views expressed are her own)
The author is a feminist advocate and researcher, and has an MA from Columbia University. She was a part of the first cohort of Tibetan graduate students who received the Dalai Lama Trust Scholarship.