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U.S. Senate approves legislation urging the Chinese government to begin earnest negotiations with the Dalai Lama on the future of Tibet

September 22, 2008

International Campaign for Tibet

ICT press release, September 19, 2008

The US Senate has passed a bipartisan resolution urging substantive 
negotiations on Tibet between the Chinese government and 
representatives of the Dalai Lama. S. Resolution 643 was introduced by 
Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Russell Feingold (D-WI). It was 
approved unanimously by the U.S. Senate on September 17, 2008.

"The message in the Senate's vigilance and deep concern for the 
situation in Tibet is clear: the time is now to move from dialogue to 
results-based negotiations on the future of Tibet," said Todd Stein, 
Director of Government Relations at ICT. "By passing S.Res. 643, the 
Senate gives voice to the expectations of the international community 
for real progress toward a political solution on Tibet, in contrast to 
the recent Chinese practice of issuing new demands and pre-conditions."

The next round of dialogue between the two sides is anticipated in 
October 2008. The Envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and officials 
of the Chinese government have met twice in China this year: informal 
talks on May 4 and the seventh round of the dialogue on July 1-2. 
Special Envoy Lodi Gyari characterized the most recent round as 
"difficult" and disappointing, and questioned the purpose of 
continuing the dialogue "in the absence of serious and sincere 
commitment on [the Chinese] part." By contrast, Mr. Gyari said of the 
2005 dialogue that "it was apparent that both sides had a positive 
assessment of the ongoing process."

"ICT commends Senators Smith and Feingold for their leadership and for 
recognizing the urgent need for earnest negotiations on Tibet," said 
Mr. Stein. "ICT continues to urge governments in the United States, 
Europe and elsewhere to press Beijing, now that the Olympics are past, 
to consider seriously its own self-interests in negotiating genuine 
autonomy for Tibetans. We welcome the timely passage of this 
resolution, as many heads of state, including President Bush, who have 
been outspoken in their support of the Dalai Lama's efforts to engage 
the Chinese, will have occasion to talk with Chinese leaders at the UN 
General Assembly meeting currently convening in New York."

The text of the resolution is as follows:

Whereas, on April 25, 2008, China's official news agency Xinhua 
expressed the willingness of the Government of China to meet with 
envoys of the Dalai Lama;

Whereas, on May 4, 2008, Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama 
Lodi Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen met with Chinese Executive Vice 
Minister Zhu Weiqun and Executive Vice Minister Sithar for one day of 
talks, in which the Government of China alleged that the Dalai Lama 
instigated the March 2008 unrest in autonomous Tibetan areas of China, 
and was sabotaging the Olympic Games;

Whereas Hu Jintao, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, 
released a statement after this meeting saying that his Government of 
China was committed to a ``serious'' dialogue with the Dalai Lama;

Whereas, at the United States-European Union (EU) Summit on June 10, 
2008, the United States and the European Union issued a joint 
statement welcoming the decision by the Government of China to hold 
talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama, and urged "both parties 
to move forward with a substantive, constructive and results-oriented 
dialogue at an early date";

Whereas the Envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Kelsang Gyaltsen 
and Lodi Gyari visited Beijing from June 30 to July 3, 2008, to 
conduct the seventh round of the Tibetan-Chinese dialogue;

Whereas, during these talks, the Government of China issued a new set 
of demands, including that the Dalai Lama prove that he does not 
support Tibetan independence or disruption of the Olympic Games in 
Beijing;

Whereas the Dalai Lama has stated multiple times he does not favor the 
independence of Tibet and is instead seeking negotiations to address 
the legitimate grievances of, and provide genuine autonomy for, the 
Tibetan people within the People's Republic of China, and is committed 
to non-violence;

Whereas the Dalai Lama has repeatedly and publicly declared his 
support for the Olympic Games in China, as well as his intention to 
attend the opening ceremony, if invited;

Whereas, at the conclusion of the July round of talks, officials of 
the Government of China did not accept a proposal by the 
representatives of the Dalai Lama to agree to a joint statement 
supporting a continuation of the dialogue process;

Whereas Special Envoy Lodi Gyari said on July 5, 2008, that the talks 
with the Government of China, called for by the international 
community, were "disappointing and difficult";

Whereas, in contrast to the opinion of Special Envoy Lodi Gyari, 
President George W. Bush said on July 6, 2008, that "it looks like 
there's some progress, at least in the talks with the Dalai Lama";

Whereas officials of the Government of China subsequently stated that 
the talks with the Dalai Lama's envoys are only about the Dalai Lama's 
personal future, rather than about the future of Tibet;

Whereas the Office of the Dalai Lama on July 17, 2008, restated its 
position that the talks are about "the future of 6,000,000 Tibetans in 
Tibet and not His Holiness the Dalai Lama";

Whereas, on July 11, 2008, the European Parliament adopted a 
resolution that "welcomes the resumption of contacts, after the events 
of March 2008 in Lhasa, between the representatives of the Dalai Lama 
and the Chinese authorities" and "encourages the two parties to 
intensify these contacts so as to establish the bases for mutual 
trust, without which it will be impossible to arrive at a mutually 
acceptable political solution";

Whereas China's People's Armed Police troops have been sent to 
monasteries in Tibetan areas to give monks "relevant information" 
about the Olympics, and Chinese authorities have stepped up "patriotic 
education" campaigns designed to conform the religious practices of 
Tibetan Buddhists to Communist Party rules, including forcing monks 
and nuns to denounce the Dalai Lama: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate--

(1) urges the Dalai Lama or his representatives and the Government of 
the People's Republic of China to begin earnest negotiations, without 
preconditions, to provide for a mutually agreeable solution that 
addresses the legitimate grievances of, and provides genuine autonomy 
for, the Tibetan people;

(2) urges that the talks in October 2008 between the Government of 
China and the Dalai Lama should focus on the welfare, cultural, 
political, and religious autonomy of the Tibetan people, and not on 
the person of the Dalai Lama;

(3) affirms that the human rights of Tibetans and their right to 
practice religion free of government regulation is not an internal 
matter of any one country;

(4) urges the President to take a more personal and engaged interest 
in the successful conclusion of these negotiations, both unilaterally 
and in coordination with United States allies; and

(5) calls on the United States Government to press the Government of 
China--

(A) to respect freedom of speech and freedom of association, as 
required by international law and as enshrined in the Constitution of 
China and to release those who have committed no crime other than 
peaceful protest; and

(B) to end the "patriotic education" campaign against lay and clerical 
Tibetans and allow Tibetans to practice their religion freely.

This press release can be found online at http://savetibet.org/news/newsitem.php?id=1364


Press contact:

Kate Saunders
Communications Director, ICT
Tel: +44 7947 138612
email: press@savetibet.org
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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