By Tenzin Monlam
Rex Tillerson being sworn in as secretary of state
DHARAMSHALA, FEB 2: The newly sworn in US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has indicated towards continuing the previous administration position regarding dialogue between Beijing and representative of Tibetan government in exile or the Dalai Lama.
Responding to questions on Tibet from members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil today said, “While recognizing Tibet as part of the China, I will continue to encourage dialogue between Beijing and representatives of Tibet’s ‘Government in Exile’ and/or the Dalai Lama.”
Tillerson also said he will also encourage Beijing and the Governments of all nations to respect and preserve the distinct religious, linguistic, and cultural identity of the Tibetan people worldwide.
The 64-year US diplomat who’s appointment drew strong criticism from rights groups also assured he would be committed to integrate human rights issues including cases of political prisoners into US-China diplomatic talks. He said that issues of religious freedom would also be a high priority.
With a definite ‘yes’, he assured that the new administration would receive and meet the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, reviled by Beijing as a “separatist” and whose appearance with US presidents draw Beijing’s ire.
Describing the restriction on movement and entry in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) for reporters, civil society actors and diplomats as ‘problematic’, the new Secretary of State said that the best policy ‘advisable’ would be to reciprocate by limiting the number of visas allowed to personnel from Chinese state-run media operating in the US or on Chinese officials who are responsible for denying access to Tibet to US citizens with visa sanctions.
Meanwhile, the International Campaign for Tibet, a Washington D C based NGO, expressed hopes for the continuation of the previous government’s position. “The US has a time-honored tradition of bipartisan consensus on the Tibetan issue and respect for the Dalai Lama. We expect that the Congress, President Donald Trump, and Secretary Rex Tillerson will continue this tradition,” said Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet.
Rex Tillerson has been sworn in after receiving Senate approval in a 56-43 vote count making him the top diplomat of the nation.