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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs > Releases > Reports > 2004

Report on Tibet Negotiations

As Required by Foreign Relations Authorization Act, 2003, Section 611, "Tibetan Policy Act of 2002"
Submitted to Congress on June 23, 2004
Released by the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs

I. Executive Summary
II. Tibet Policy
III. Steps taken by the President and the Secretary to encourage the Government of the People's Republic of China to enter into a dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives leading to a negotiated agreement on Tibet
     A. Steps taken by the President
     B. Steps taken by the Secretary
     C. Steps taken by other Department of State officers
IV. Status of any discussions between the People's Republic of China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives

I. Executive Summary

The United States is encouraged that the People's Republic of China invited the Dalai Lama's Special Envoy Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen to visit Beijing and Tibetan regions of China again in May 2003, following on an initial visit in September 2002. We urge that such contacts continue, and that substantive dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives lead to a negotiated settlement on questions related to Tibet.

In public statements and in diplomatic channels, we continue to press both sides to open a dialogue without preconditions. We have consistently maintained that questions surrounding Tibet and its relationship to Chinese authorities in Beijing should be resolved by direct dialogue between the Tibetans and the Chinese. Both the President and the Secretary met with the Dalai Lama during his September 2003 visit to Washington, and reiterated our commitment to supporting the dialogue process. In addition to the visit of the Dalai Lama's Special Envoy Lodi Gyari, we also note a July 2002 visit to Beijing and Tibetan regions of China by the Dalai Lama's elder brother, Gyalo Thondup.

The Dalai Lama can be a constructive partner as China deals with the difficult challenges of regional and national stability. He represents the views of the vast majority of Tibetans and his moral authority helps to unite the Tibetan community inside and outside of China. For China to work with the Dalai Lama or his representatives to resolve problems facing Tibet is in the interest of both the Chinese Government and the Tibetan people. At the same time, the lack of resolution of these problems leads to greater tensions inside China and will be a stumbling block to fuller political and economic engagement with the United States and other nations.

II. Tibet Policy

Encouraging substantive dialogue between Beijing and the Dalai Lama is an important objective of this Administration. The United States encourages China and the Dalai Lama to hold substantive discussions aimed at resolution of differences at an early date, without preconditions. We have consistently asserted that any questions surrounding Tibet and its relationship to Chinese authorities should be resolved by direct dialogue between the Tibetans and the Chinese. The Administration believes that dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives will alleviate tensions in Tibetan regions of China.

The United States recognizes the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan Autonomous prefectures and counties in other provinces to be a part of the People's Republic of China. This long-standing policy is consistent with the view of the international community. In addition, the Dalai Lama has expressly disclaimed any intention to seek sovereignty or independence for Tibet and has stated that his goal is greater autonomy for Tibetans in China.

Because we do not recognize Tibet as an independent state, the United States does not conduct official diplomatic relations with the Tibetan "government-in-exile" in Dharamsala. However, we maintain contact with representatives of a wide variety of political and other groups inside and outside of China, including with Tibetans in the United States, China, and around the world. Our contacts include meeting with the Dalai Lama in his capacity as an important religious leader and Nobel laureate. It is a sign of our country's respect for the Dalai Lama that the President, the Secretary, and other senior administration officials have met with him on several occasions.

We have consistently urged China to respect the unique religious, linguistic, and cultural heritage of its Tibetan people and to respect fully their human rights and civil liberties.

III. Steps Taken by the President and the Secretary to Encourage the Government of the People's Republic of China to Enter into a Dialogue with the Dalai Lama or His Representatives Leading to a Negotiated Agreement on Tibet

A. Steps Taken by the President

Since assuming office in January 2001, President Bush has been consistent in urging the Chinese Government to engage in substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, and to respect the unique cultural, linguistic, and religious heritage of the Tibetan people.

On September 10, 2003, President Bush met with the Dalai Lama at the White House. In that meeting, the President expressed his strong support for the Dalai Lama's commitment to dialogue with the Chinese Government. The President said he would seek ways to encourage dialogue and expressed his hope that the Chinese Government would respond favorably. The President also reiterated the strong commitment of the United States to support the preservation of Tibet's unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity and the protection of the human rights of all Tibetans. Under Secretary Dobriansky, in her role as Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, joined this meeting.

At the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum held in Australia in October 2003, the President met Chinese President Hu Jintao. There, he discussed his overall concern for lack of progress on human rights, religious freedom in China, including Tibet, and raised the importance of progress on dialogue with Dalai Lama or his representatives.

On the occasion of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to the White House on December 9, 2003, the President also noted in his remarks during the arrival ceremony on the South Lawn that Tibet remains an area of "difference" between the United States and China. Later in discussions with Premier Wen, the President reiterated the need for progress on dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives and encouraged the Premier to set a date for the next round of talks in China.

The President has twice visited China. In October 2001, the President attended the APEC ministerial meeting in Shanghai, and held a bilateral meeting with then-President Jiang Zemin during which he urged the Chinese to initiate dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives. The President visited China again in February 2002. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, speaking to the press on February 21, noted that President Bush and President Jiang had an extensive discussion on human rights and religious freedom concerns in China, including in Tibetan regions, and that the President "mentioned specifically the importance of dialogue with the Dalai Lama."

In October 2002, President Jiang made a visit to the United States and met with the President on October 25 in Crawford, Texas. The two again discussed Tibet in detail. At a joint press conference later that day, President Bush said, "I also spoke of the importance of respecting human rights in Tibet and encouraged more dialogue with Tibetan leaders."

The President also met with Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao in May 2002, during the latter's first official visit to the United States. President Bush raised his concerns about religious freedom in China, including in China's Tibetan regions, and encouraged China to welcome a visit by the Dalai Lama or his representatives. Mr. Hu, who is now both President of China and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, apparently retains an interest in Tibetan issues. In the late 1980s, Hu held the highest Party post in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

B. Steps Taken by the Secretary

On September 9, 2003, Secretary Powell met with the Dalai Lama for the second time. Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky, the Department's Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, was also present in the meeting, which provided an opportunity to exchange views with the Dalai Lama on the situation in Tibet. Secretary Powell expressed his strong support for the process of dialogue, and his interest in working to protect Tibet's unique cultural, linguistic, and religious heritage and increase respect for religious freedom in Tibet.

Two weeks later, Secretary Powell met with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and, together with Under Secretary Dobriansky, underscored the importance of visits by the Dalai Lama's envoys, and the need for tangible results to come from the process. The Secretary noted that the Dalai Lama is a figure of enormous moral stature, and encouraged the Chinese government to keep lines of communication open with him. During Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to United States on December 9, 2003, Secretary Powell, joined by Under Secretary Dobriansky, met with Premier Wen to review areas of key bilateral concern.

Secretary of State Powell and former Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan also discussed Tibet on multiple occasions. When the two met in China in July 2001, the Secretary raised concerns about human rights, including in Tibet, during his meetings in Beijing. He pointed out that these issues are important to the American people and to U.S.‑China relations. The Secretary also urged the Chinese Government to initiate dialogue with the Dalai Lama. The Secretary, along with Under Secretary Dobriansky, met with then Foreign Minister Tang on September 21, 2001 to discuss key bilateral issues, including the need for dialogue between the Dalai Lama or his representatives and the People’s Republic of China.

The Secretary, again joined by Under Secretary Dobriansky, also met with Foreign Minister Tang at the U.N. General Assembly on September 13, 2002. There he noted that the United States was encouraged by the recent contact between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and the Chinese, and urged that the two sides continue to work together on a process for dialogue. During his February 2003 trip to China, the Secretary reiterated this message in his meeting with Foreign Minister Tang.

C. Steps Taken by Other Department of State Officials

At all levels, in public statements and in private meetings, officials of the Department of State continue to raise with Chinese counterparts the importance of the Tibet issue and to urge that China enter into negotiations with the Dalai Lama or his representatives as soon as possible.

During his trip to Beijing in late January 2004, Deputy Secretary Armitage raised Tibet on several occasions. The Deputy Secretary urged China to move forward with the dialogue process, arguing that it is useful for both sides to pursue discussions aimed at resolving longstanding issues of difference. The Deputy Secretary also specifically requested that the Chinese government arrange another round of dialogue with the Dalai Lama's representatives as soon as possible.

At the invitation of the European Parliament (EP), Under Secretary Dobriansky visited Brussels in January 2004 to discuss with Parliament members and European Commissioners (EC) her role as Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues in the context of the U.S.-China relationship.

During the Dalai Lama’s September 2003 visit to Washington, the Under Secretary met with the Dalai Lama on several occasions to discuss the status of negotiations and the overall situation in Tibet. Dr. Dobriansky will see the Dalai Lama again in April 2004.

On May 17, 2001, Secretary Powell designated Under Secretary Paula Dobriansky as Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, a responsibility in addition to her continuing role as Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs. As the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Under Secretary Dobriansky's responsibilities include promoting substantive dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives, maintaining close ties with Congress and nongovernmental organizations with an interest in Tibet, and seeking to assist in preserving the unique cultural, religious, and linguistic heritage of Tibetans. Under Secretary Dobriansky accompanied the President to China on both his trips, and also led a separate delegation to Beijing in April 2002. On all of these occasions, she discussed Tibetan human rights and religious freedom issues in detail, as well as the importance of dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives.

On March 7, 2002 in testimony before the House International Relations Committee, Under Secretary Dobriansky discussed widespread human rights abuses in Tibet and also noted that on both her visits to China, President Bush urged Chinese leaders to negotiate directly with the Dalai Lama or his representatives on the grounds that the Dalai Lama's call for "genuine autonomy was sincere." In repeated public statements, the Under Secretary continued, the Dalai Lama has made clear he does not seek independence for Tibet, but rather that Tibetans be given genuine self-rule in order to preserve their civilization and their unique culture, religion, language, and way of life. For this to occur, the Dalai Lama has said it is essential for Tibetans to be able to handle all their domestic affairs and to freely determine their social, economic, and cultural development. "The lack of resolution on this issue will be a stumbling block to fuller political and economic engagement with the United States and others," Under Secretary Dobriansky concluded.

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James A. Kelly, in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 1, 2001, stated that, "we will continue to focus on Tibet. We are pressing the Chinese Government at all levels to end abuses including use of torture, arbitrary arrest, detention without public trial, or detention for peaceful expression of political religious views." In particular, Assistant Secretary Kelly continued, "we will press for an end to religious restrictions against Tibetan Buddhists. Taking a longer view, we will also work to preserve Tibetans' unique cultural, religious, and linguistic heritage. We continue to urge China to open a dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives."

Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, Democracy and Labor Lorne W. Craner discussed problems in Tibet at length in both sessions of the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue held since he assumed office. In Washington in October 2001, and in Beijing in December 2002, Assistant Secretary Craner used the human rights forum to raise individual Tibetan cases of concern and to urge dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives. He has reiterated these points in several other meetings with senior Chinese officials. When Assistant Secretary Craner met with Chinese Ambassador Yang in May 2003 on U.S.-China human rights cooperation in 2002, Mr. Craner urged that the "visit to China by the Dalai Lama’s special representatives lead quickly to substantive dialogue on long-standing issues of concern."

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Randy Schriver, in testimony before the Congressional Executive Commission on China on July 24, 2003, discussed U.S. policy on Tibetan issues, saying, "we have long pressed for resumption of dialogue between the Government of China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives, so we are encouraged that the exchanges [between them] continue to take place. We urge that the two sides continue to work toward a negotiated settlement on issues of mutual concern."

U.S. Ambassador to China Clark T. Randt traveled to Tibet in April 2002. During that trip and at other times, Ambassador Randt has pressed for dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives and has raised concerns about threats to the unique cultural, religious, and linguistic heritage of Tibetans.

The staff of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu travel regularly to Tibet and to Tibetan regions in other provinces of China. United States officials have used these trips to ascertain conditions in Tibetan areas and also to urge Chinese authorities to engage in dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives. United States officials also follow closely the human rights and religious freedom situation in Tibetan regions and protest instances of abuse of Tibetans detained for peacefully expressing their political or religious views. Finally, U.S. officials monitor and urge the protection of the unique cultural, religious, and linguistic heritage of Tibetans.

IV. Status of any Discussions Between the People's Republic of China and the Dalai Lama or His Representatives

The last two decades have seen intermittent efforts by the Dalai Lama and the People's Republic of China to reach accommodation through dialogue. During a period of liberalization in Tibet inaugurated in 1980 by then‑Secretary General of the Communist Party Hu Yaobang, the Dalai Lama was invited to send several delegations to China to observe conditions in Tibet. Three delegations traveled through Tibetan areas between August 1979 and July 1980. In April 1982, and again in October 1984, high-level Tibetan delegations traveled to Beijing to hold exploratory talks with Chinese officials, but the two sides did not make substantive headway. In 1985, a fourth fact-finding delegation traveled to Tibetan regions of China, but no progress toward substantive negotiations was made.

Contacts between China and the Dalai Lama's representatives were sporadically continued for the next 17 years, with occasional contacts between the Dalai Lama's older brother Gyalo Thondup and officials of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China. However, an open visit by a senior Tibetan figure did not occur again until July 2002, when China invited Gyalo Thondup to visit Lhasa, Beijing, his family home in Qinghai, and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in northwest China. Upon his return to India, Gyalo Thondup spoke of "great changes inside Tibet including many good roads and significant development in the cities" since his last time in Tibet in 1952. He also expressed optimism over the "great changes in the outlook of the Chinese Government" and urged face-to-face talks between Tibetan and Chinese leaders.

In September 2002, the Dalai Lama's Special Envoy Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen led a four-member delegation to Lhasa, Shigatse, Chengdu, Shanghai and Beijing. The visit marked the first public travel of Lodi Gyari to China since 1984, when he visited Beijing. It also marked the first formal contact between the Dalai Lama's representatives and China since 1993. Lodi Gyari later stated that the delegation had two tasks on the trip: "to re-establish direct contact with the leadership in Beijing and to create a conducive atmosphere enabling direct face-to-face meetings on a regular basis in the future; and to explain His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Middle Way Approach towards resolving the issue of Tibet."

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) issued several statements on the visit. In a September 10 briefing, MFA spokesperson Kong Quan stated that the Chinese Government had agreed to the visit of a "group of Tibetan expatriates" who would visit "in a private capacity" in order to tour and see relatives, and would also have a chance to exchange views with people at all levels. "China welcomes their return and views the visit as an opportunity for the group to observe Tibet's development," Quan continued. "It is also helpful for the expatriates to witness the religious freedom of Tibetans. China believes that in recent years, the Dalai Lama has used support provided by international organizations to engage in separatist activities." Kong stressed that the Dalai Lama must cease those activities and accept that Tibet and Taiwan are parts of China.

Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen traveled to China for a second time May 25 to June 8, 2003. Their party traveled to Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Tibetan areas of Yunnan province, as well as Beijing and Shanghai. As on the first trip, the envoys were hosted by the United Front Work Department, and met with various officials in the localities to which they traveled. They also met with the President and Vice President of the Buddhist Association of China, a government-affiliated religious organization. In a press statement released after the visit, Lodi Gyari stated, "We have been able to meet officials of various levels of the provinces we visited and exchanged views in a warm atmosphere." Regarding the envoys' travel to Dechen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan, he said, "Our visit was too short for us to assess in an adequate manner how effectively the Tibetan language, culture, religion and identity are being preserved, protected, and promoted," but also remarked that he was "impressed by efforts to protect the beautiful environment of Gyalthang."

Shortly after the trip concluded, PRC MFA Spokesman Kong said in a press conference that Beijing approves of Tibetan "compatriots" visiting China in a private capacity. Kong noted that Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen have close ties with the Dalai Lama, and stated that their visit illustrates that the Chinese government maintains channels of communication with the Dalai Lama. Kong also stated that through their greater understanding of developments in China and Tibet, the Dalai Lama will be able to assess the situation and make "correct choices."

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, commenting on the envoys' visit in a August interview with Czech newspaper Pravo, said that, "the policy of the central government is clear. Paths of contact to him remain open and have never been closed. However, the Dalai Lama must cease orienting towards the independence of Tibet, completely stop his activities aimed at dividing China and publicly acknowledge that Tibet is an indivisible part of China and that Taiwan is a province of China. The doors are open for negotiations."

The United States is encouraged that the People's Republic of China invited the Dalai Lama’s Special Envoys and his brother to visit Beijing, Lhasa, and other parts of China in 2002 and 2003 and that both sides expressed their hopes for continued dialogue. We urge that such contacts continue, and that substantive dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives lead quickly to a negotiated settlement on questions related to Tibet.

[end]


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