US Must Stand Up To China and Grant the Dalai Lama An Official Visit
Now that the US is finally attempting to reach out to other nations and even acknowledging some mistakes that have been made in the area of human rights (torture, detentions, etc.), climate change and diplomacy [or lack thereof] towards some countries at times critical of the US, it is time for President Obama, Congress and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to grant Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the Dalai Lama, an official visit and private meeting with the President.
According to news reports, the Dalai Lama will be traveling to the US sometime in September or October, but what is strange is that I have tickets to hear the Dalai Lama speak on May 2nd here in Boston. So, I am not sure why the media are only talking about October, when he is coming to the US in just a few days, but I will try to find out.
That China will be “upset” if such a meeting, official or otherwise, takes place between President Obama and the Dalai Lama is not the issue because it’s a foregone conclusion- Chinese officials are easily upset in general and particularly when it comes to any acknowledgment of their piss-poor record on human rights and suppression of the people of Tibet.
While Secretary Clinton acknowledged on her trip to Asia that the US and China are have intertwined economic interests which make it absolutely essential that China succeeds economically, she also reaffirmed, albeit allegedly in private meetings with Chinese officials, the United State’s continued push for political and religious freedom for the people of China and Tibet. While most can understand the need for strong economic ties with China, particularly during this economic crisis, the US cannot allow China to dictate with whom our President meets, what our core values are and how we ultimately choose to acknowledge and re-affirm those values. Additionally, according to the State Dept., a key component of US foreign policy is our commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Unfortunately, I came across this disappointing article several days ago and couldn’t help but wonder how the US could rationalize repeated official visits with not only Chinese government officials but with this “delegation” of Tibetans sent to Washington DC by the Chinese government, despite the fact that it was known ahead of time to be little more than an overt anti-Dalai Lama propaganda campaign on the part of the Chinese Government. Here is the description of China’s anti-Tibet delegation being legitimized and given access to members of Congress and officials at the State Department:
…When asked whether his fellow Tibetans have been imprisoned and tortured for expressing their political views, Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak didn’t mince words.
“I think that some of them are deliberately telling lies, and some of them are saying so because of bias,” said Tenzinchodrak, a delegate to China’s national legislature who is also a spiritual leader.
He was part of a delegation of five Tibetan legislators who were in Washington on Tuesday, meeting with U.S. officials in an unprecedented public relations campaign aimed at dispelling what one Chinese official called “propaganda” regarding human rights abuses in Tibet.
Lobsang Sangay, a native Tibetan and senior research fellow at Harvard Law School, says he is quite familiar with such delegations. “They are paraded to read a script,” he said. “It’s not surprising that what they say is so out of touch with the reality that credible journalists and scholars have reported. It is kind of a desperate attempt on the Chinese part to whitewash the tragic reality in Tibet.”
The delegation of two woman and three men met with an official at the State Department, and were scheduled to call on Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said Guomin Chen, an embassy official.
The news conference drew a few non-journalists, including Washington lawyer Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Clinton whose law firm, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, has three offices in China.
“I have the greatest respect for the Dalai Lama … but there is another side to the story,” Davis said.[emphasis mine]
The US is willing to legitimize that nonsense above but can’t decide whether or not to grant the Dalai Lama even an unofficial visit with President Obama? That sends a great message. The message goes something like this: “Dear China, we will gladly bend over and grab our own ankles for you. Thank you sir, may I have another?” And what the hell is Clinton family confidant Lanny Davis doing at the center of all of it? He has significant financial interests in China and of course he can provide the Chinese government with access to high-level government officials and in doing so, serve as a key link in the chain helping China to legitimize it’s flagrant propaganda campaign against political dissidents in China and Tibet. I can’t help but wonder what Secretary Clinton thinks of all of this?
I don’t for one minute doubt Hillary Clinton’s commitment to expanding and fighting for human rights at home and abroad, including China, because after all, who could forget her passionate and controversial speech on the subject in Beijing as First Lady at the Forth UN Conference on Women in 1995? China was so outraged that they stopped the live coverage of her speech on China’s state-run TV. As Senator from NY and as a candidate for President, she repeatedly condemned China’s continued crack-down on human rights. The same was true of candidate Obama. And in February 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the State Departments 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, and guess which country continues to systematically violate the human rights of its citizens in the areas of religious and political freedom, illegal detention and torture of political/religious prisoners, freedom of speech, forced abortion and sterilization of women, female infanticide, and on and on? Our good friend and economic albatross, China.
By openly meeting with the Dalai Lama, whom President George W. Bush and Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the US would send a powerful message of hope, to the people of Tibet and to others around the world who currently face significant political and religious oppression.
Re-affirming the rights and cultural autonomy of the people of Tibet and of Chinese citizens in general, even if only symbolically [by officially meeting with the Dalai Lama], would be consistent with the United States’ long-standing foreign policy- how can the US credibly claim that sanctions against Cuba should remain in place? How can the US claim that in order for the US to renew any dialogue with Cuba, Fidel Castro must release all political prisoners? How can Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration require Hamas recognize Israel’s right to exist as a pre-condition to the US engaging in any attempts at getting Israel and the Palestinians to commit to mid-east peace talks?
If you care about this issue at all, please contact the White House and US State Department and request that the United States continue to stand up for political and religious freedom in China, Tibet and elsewhere by inviting the Dalai Lama to the US for an official visit with the President, US officials and members of Congress.