Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday condemned China for its 'broken promises' in the buildup to the Olympics and called upon President Bush, who is attending the Games' Opening Ceremonies, to make a strong public statement in Beijing about China's repression of human rights and to request a visit to Tibet.
"President Bush must use the opportunity provided by his attendance at the Olympics to make clear to President Hu that the United States expects the Chinese to begin sincere and concrete negotiations with the Dalai Lama on the future of Tibet," said Todd Stein, ICT's Director of Government Relations. "The House expects progress not promises at a time of crisis for the Tibetan people. ICT commends the House leadership and Chairman Berman and his Foreign Affairs Committee colleagues for advancing this timely legislation."
H.Res. 1370, passed yesterday by a vote of 419 to 1, cites the Chinese government's refusal to engage the Dalai Lama in substantive, face-to-face discussions on the future of Tibet, its failure to meet international standards for refugee protection (citing the shooting of a 17-year old Tibetan nun escaping into exile by Chinese border guards), and its broken promise to allow full media access to China and Tibet. Since March, the Tibetan plateau has been virtually sealed off to the outside world following a tidal wave of protests against Chinese rule, and is now under martial law in all but name.
The resolution calls on President Bush to press the Chinese government to:
- "begin earnest negotiations, without preconditions, directly with His Holiness the Dalai Lama or his representatives, on the future of Tibet to provide for a mutually agreeable solution that addresses the legitimate grievances of, and provides genuine autonomy for, the Tibetan people;"
- seek to visit Tibet while in China;
- guarantee unrestricted travel by journalists and visitors to Tibet;
- make a strong public statement on China's human rights situation, both prior to his departure and while in Beijing.
The resolution was introduced by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and was approved by the bipartisan committee on July 24.
This action by the House mirrors a resolution adopted by the European Parliament earlier this month, and reflects a series of recent reports by leading international human rights organizations critiquing China's human rights performance on the eve of the Beijing Olympics. On August 6, the International Campaign for Tibet will release a comprehensive report on the stepped up campaign of repression against Tibetans since the March uprising. Other reports include those by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders.