Secretary Hillary Clinton, Tibet and China

Secretary Hillary Clinton is scheduled to arrive in China today in her maiden visit to the country as the head of the US foreign office. Her visit comes at a period when there is great expectation for the Obama Administration to have a different approach.

The State Department website has a feature where you can ask a question to the Secretary on her trip. It says, “”Ask the Secretary” is a new online interactive forum that can allow you to connect with Secretary Clinton directly. While Secretary Clinton travels across the world, you can submit your questions for her using this form. Secretary Clinton will select various questions to answer and they will be posted to this website.”

While announcing her visit to the region, the State Department had this to say about her trip to China. “The Secretary will conclude her trip in China where she will meet with senior officials in Beijing to further develop a positive, cooperative relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.” In her remarks to the Asia Society on February 13, 2009, she made a reference to Tibet in the following way. “As part of our dialogues, we will hold ourselves and others accountable as we work to expand human rights and create a world that respects those rights, one where Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi can live freely in her own country, where the people of North Korea can freely choose their own leaders, and where Tibetans and all Chinese people can enjoy religious freedom without fear of prosecution.”

Last year, following the Chinese clampdown in Tibet, then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton issued the following statement on March 16.

“I am deeply concerned about the violent clashes that have erupted in Lhasa, Tibet. Based on the limited information available, there is an urgent need for all parties, and in particular the Chinese security forces, to exercise restraint, to demonstrate respect for human rights and to protect civilians from danger. I call on the Chinese government to prevent further escalation of this conflict and to urgently pursue resolution through peaceful means.

“I co-sponsored the Fourteenth Dalai Lama Congressional Gold Medal Act and co-sponsored the Tibetan Policy Act of 2001, supporting a dialogue between the People’s Republic of China and the Dalai Lama. I have personally met with the Dalai Lama. I asked President Jiang Zemin to explain China’s repression of the Tibetans and their religion during his 1997 state visit to the United States. More than 10 years later, Chinese repression in Tibet continues. This week, Tibetan monks have sent a message to the world that their aspirations for religious liberty remain as strong as ever.

“Upholding freedom and human rights in Tibet will happen through negotiation, and with a commitment on all sides to seeking constructive solutions for the benefit, above all, of the Tibetan people.”

Let us see how Tibet will figure in this visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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