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China slams US following special coordinator appointment for Tibet

07:06 | 16/10/2020

The United States has appointed a senior human rights official as special coordinator for Tibetan issues, which, China said, is an infringement on its internal affairs.

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china slams us following special coordinator appointment for tibet
Human rights activists say Beijing suppresses local culture, the Buddhist religion and minorities in Tibet [File: He Penglei/CNS via Reuters]

The United States has appointed a senior human rights official as special coordinator for Tibetan issues, amid increasingly tense relations between Washington and Beijing.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on October 14 that Assistant Secretary Robert A. Destro of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor will serve as the United States Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues.

Consistent with the Tibetan Policy Act, Special Coordinator Destro will lead US efforts to promote dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives; protect the unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of Tibetans; and press for their human rights to be respected, Pompeo said in a press statement.

china slams us following special coordinator appointment for tibet
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on October 14 that Assistant Secretary Robert A. Destro of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor will serve as the United States Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues.

He will also support US efforts to address the humanitarian needs of Tibetan refugees and to promote sustainable economic development and environmental conservation in Tibetan communities on the plateau.

The US remains concerned with China’s repression of the Tibetan community, including the lack of meaningful autonomy, the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas, and severe restrictions on Tibetans’ religious freedom and cultural traditions within China, Pompeo said.

Special Coordinator Destro will engage Tibetan leaders and international partners and experts to address these issues. He also will carry forward the Department’s engagement with and support for Tibet’s global diaspora and their many courageous advocates for the protection of human rights, including the freedom of religion or belief, according to the press statement.

China rejects US’s appointment of Tibet coordinator

china slams us following special coordinator appointment for tibet
China says Tibet issues are China's internal affairs and it has rejected any foreign interference on the matter [File: Damir Sagolj/Reuters]

The US’s appointment of the Tibet coordinator comes amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington, which has routinely criticised the Chinese government’s human rights record, especially on the treatment of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet.

China has routinely refused to deal with the US coordinator for Tibet, seeing it as an infringement on its internal affairs, Al Jazeera reported.

Tibet affairs are China’s internal affairs that allow no foreign interference,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman at the Chinese foreign ministry.

The setting up of the so-called coordinator for Tibetan issues is entirely out of political manipulation to interfere in China’s internal affairs and destabilise Tibet. China firmly opposes that,” Zhao said at a regular media briefing.

china slams us following special coordinator appointment for tibet
People walk in a market alley in the old city of Lhasa. Photo: Reuters

China seized control of Tibet in 1950 in what it describes as a “peaceful liberation” that helped the remote Himalayan region throw off its “feudalist” past.

People of all ethnic groups in Tibet are part of the big family of the Chinese nation, and since its peaceful liberation, Tibet has had prosperous economic growth,” Zhao said.

But critics, led by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, say Beijing’s rule amounts to “cultural genocide”.

In July, Pompeo said the US would restrict visas for some Chinese officials involved in blocking diplomatic access to Tibet and engaging in “human rights abuses”, adding that Washington supported “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet.

Successive US administrations have sought to press China to ease restrictions on foreigners’ travel to Tibet, where human rights activists say Beijing has engaged in a decades-long campaign to suppress local culture, the Buddhist religion and minorities.

Permission to travel to the region is rarely granted, and visitors are subject to strict regulations when it is./.

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