US Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew (l) and US Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns during the closing session of the 5th United States and China Strategic and Economic Dialogue at the US Department of the Treasury July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo/AFP/Getty Images/BRENDAN SMIALOWSK)
DHARAMSHALA, July 12: The United States has said that it raised concerns over the human rights situation in Tibet and Uighur areas during the two-day US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue held in Washington DC from July 10-11.
In a joint press statement following the meeting, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said the US “expressed ongoing concerns about human rights in China, particularly recent instability in Tibetan and Uighur areas of China.”
“The goal of this conversation is to emphasise the importance of human rights to the bilateral relationship,” Burns said. “We firmly believe that respect for universal rights and fundamental freedoms will make China more peaceful, more prosperous, and ultimately more secure.”
However, in the same joint press China’s State councilor Yang Jiechi hit back at US criticism and asserted that Tibetan and Uighur minorities enjoyed happiness and "unprecedented" freedom, while advising Washington to examine its own record.
"China has made important progress on human rights. People in various regions in China including Xinjiang and Tibet are enjoying happier lives and they are enjoying unprecedented freedoms," Yang said at the joint press appearance.
"We hope the United States will improve its own human rights situation on the basis of mutual respect and non-intervention in each other's internal affairs."
Since 2009, as many as 119 Tibetans living under China’s rule have set themselves on fire demanding freedom and the return of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
On July 6, Chinese security forces opened live fire and lobbed tear gas on a crowd of unarmed Tibetans gathered to offer prayers on the 78th birthday of the Dalai Lama in Tawu region of eastern Tibet. Several Tibetans received serious injuries and are reportedly in critical condition.
Following their fifth Strategic and Economic Dialogue, US Secretary of Treasury Jacob Lew said China’s reform process is in “early stages,” while noting that some positive changes have already starting appearing.
“As part of its broader reform agenda, China has committed to open further to foreign investment, including through the recently announced Shanghai free trade zone pilot for services. China announced that it intends to submit a revised offer to join the WTO Government Procurement Agreement by the end of 2013, and then will begin intensive technical discussions with the United States this summer to ensure that its offer is commensurate with the coverage of other GPA parties,” Secretary Lew said.
“China has committed to further exchange rate reform and is actively considering joining the international standard for public reporting of reserves data, the IMF’s special data dissemination standard, a standard that’s played a major role in enhancing foreign exchange reserve transparency.”