FPI: US must publicly pursue a clear Tibet policy

Ellen Bork, the Foreign Policy Initiative‘s Director of Democracy and Human Rights has a really great piece on how the Obama administration is failing to pursue a clear Tibet policy, to the detriment of Tibet and possibly in violation of statute. Of note from the piece, which should be read in its entirety:

The administration’s downplaying of Tibet undermines Chinese liberal intellectuals and activists who have criticized Beijing’s policies on Tibet at great risk to themselves. After the March 2008 uprising, a Chinese think tank called the Open Constitution Initiative issued a report challenging Beijing’s position that the riots were incited by the Dalai Lama and criticizing the crackdown that followed. This organization was later shut down and its staff harassed.

In addition, 29 intellectuals, lawyers and activists signed an open letter in March 2008 supporting dialogue with the Dalai Lama and urging and end to official propaganda vilifying him and Tibetans. One of them, Liu Xiaobo was later prosecuted on subversion charges for his writings and sentenced to jail for 11 years.

American officials should know by now that nothing is gained by acquiescing to China’s overbearing behavior on Tibet or any other issue. Adapting to Beijing’s “correct understanding” of Tibet undermines not only the Dalai Lama and human rights for Tibetans, but also America’s own “core interest” in seeing these respected in Tibet and China as well. To be credible, America must clearly and publicly pursue a well-established policy on Tibet.

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