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US diplomat asks China to hold dialogue with Dalai Lama

Expressing the US administration’s strong commitment towards human rights, US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Uzra Zeya, on Friday called on China to hold direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives without any preconditions to achieve meaningful autonomy for Tibetans.

Special Coordinator Uzra Zeya made these comments in an interview with Tibet TV.

Speaking about her role, she said she “sees the role as fully reflecting President Biden’s commitment to centre human rights and democratic values in the US foreign policy writ large”.

She expressed her own commitment to working with the international community and engaging People’s Republic of China (PRC) officials on advancing human rights of the Tibetan people and preserving their unique historical, religious, cultural and linguistic rights, including calling upon the PRC to end interference in the selection and veneration of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders.

Elaborating further, she explained her role also include calling upon the PRC to end its surveillance and harassment of Tibetan diaspora communities all over the world, including in the US.

She called on the PRC to engage in direct dialogue without preconditions with His Holiness the Dalai Lama or his representatives to resolve differences and achieve meaningful autonomy for Tibetans, according to a post on the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).

“We are also calling for increased access to Tibet for the US and other officials, including journalists like yourself, and we seek reciprocity from China regarding the access that PRC officials enjoy in our country. We want to promote activities that protect the environment and the water resources of the Tibetan plateau on which over a billion people depend.

“We also seek to address the very significant humanitarian needs of the Tibetan refugees. We want to support opportunities for these refugees to improve their livelihood and we must ensure that they are not forcibly returned to China.

“So it is a multi-pronged agenda that we are pursuing, one that we seek to intensively engage international partners to build support in this very concerted effort,” she added.

Emphasising her commitment to restore the Sino-Tibetan dialogue, she said she intends to work intensively with partners throughout the US government, the US congress, and with likeminded partners and governments in the international community.

The Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human rights described resuming the Sino-Tibetan dialogue as the cornerstone of the special coordinator’s role and something that she will continue to call for.

She explained that the US administration believes that a negotiated agreement that leads to meaningful autonomy for Tibetans and ensures the preservation of their religion, culture and language provides the best hope for long term stability in the region.

Responding to questions on the US government’s stance on the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics and the issue of reciprocal access, she said: “With respect to the Olympics, I want to underscore that the US took a principled decision not to send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics games given the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and their other severe human rights abuses including in Tibet.a

The Dalai Lama has been living in India since fleeing his homeland Tibet in 1959. The government-in-exile is based in this northern hill town of Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh.