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Tibet-related issues among top priorities for U.S. China policy
Phayul[Tuesday, June 23, 2009 18:03]
Kurt M. Campbell, President Obama's nominee to be Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, says U.S. "will sustain its focus on promoting substantive dialogue, directed at achieving meaningful results" on Tibet.

By Phurbu Thinley

Dharamsala, June 23: Issues associated with Tibet will remain among top priorities for U.S. China policy, Kurt M. Campbell, who was recently nominated by President Obama to be Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, said.

"Encouraging respect for human rights, including minority rights and religious freedom in all areas, including Tibet, is a top priority in our bilateral engagement with China," Mr Campbell said during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and in response to questions from the senators on June 10, 2009.

“In engaging China on a broad range of challenges, we will have frank discussions on issues where we have disagreements, including human rights, Tibet, religious freedom, and freedom of expression,” Campbell said in a written response to a question.

He maintained that the “promotion of human rights is an essential aspect of U.S. global foreign policy” and added that both president Obama and Secretary Clinton had raised their concerns over human rights and Tibet issues with top Chinese leaders during their respective meetings.

"We will not shy away from seeking opportunities to raise candidly with China's leaders our concerns about the poor human rights situation in Tibet. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have discussed Tibet issues with China's most senior officials, and I will do the same,” Campbell, who is reportedly expected to be confirmed swiftly by the full Senate for the nominated post, said.

Campbell is the first senior level official at the State Department to come before the Committee who will have responsibility for the issues that come together to form U.S. policy on Tibet, International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), a pro-Tibet advocacy group based in Washington, said in a report on its website.

According to the report, the Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor; Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugee and Migration, the American Ambassador to China and the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues are all key members of the State Department policy team, and should be put in place in the weeks ahead.

In his statement, Campbell also said the US government would continue to promote substantive dialogue between Tibetan and Chinese leaderships directed at “achieving meaningful results” on Tibet.

“Likewise, we will also encourage the Tibetans to pursue dialogue with the Chinese and identify areas where substantive improvements to the lives of Tibetans can realistically be achieved,” Campbell said.

"This administration sees the talks between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama's representatives as essential for resolving longstanding tensions in Tibetan areas of China and for safeguarding the distinct ethnic, cultural, and religious identity of the Tibetan people. We will sustain our focus on promoting substantive dialogue, directed at achieving meaningful results," he said.

Responding to Campbell’s statement, ICT’s Director for Government Relation Todd Stein said: “The expectation of 'meaningful results' echoes recent statements by President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and Speaker Pelosi, all of which indicate a high priority for Tibet and a sense that rhetoric will not be enough to satisfy a new leadership that is looking for demonstrated progress on Tibet and is ready to support ways to achieve it.”

"This is unambiguous language that should be viewed as such by the Chinese government,” Stein said.

Talks between Dalai Lama's envoys and Beijing came to a standstill after a "Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People” submitted by the Tibetan side at the eighth round of talks in October last year was met with Beijing’s derision.

China continues to insist that doors for talks are always open.

However, Tibetan side says China has not been sincere in the rounds of talks started since 2002 and claims that that Beijing government has rejected the proposed memorandum without providing any “legal and rational explanations".

The Tibetan Task Force, a body set up in 1999 to mainly assist the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in their talks with the representatives of the Chinese government, recently met in Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile in north India, to reportedly deliberate on ways to break the deadlock and resume talks with the Chinese leadership.
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