Blinken Meets Tibet Exile Government Representative in India

The New Delhi rendezvous is being read as a message to China and others.
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Blinken Meets Tibet Exile Government Representative in India U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Ngodup Dongchung, a representative of the Central Tibetan Administration (right)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a meeting with a representative of Tibet’s exile government in New Delhi, India Wednesday, a move that Tibet analysts said showed Washington’s commitment to supporting Tibetan rights in the face of harsh Chinese rule.

Blinken met in the Indian capital with Ngodup Dongchung, a representative of the Central Tibetan Administration, the Tibetan exile government based in Dharamsala, a northern Indian city that has hosted the Dalai Lama since he fled his homeland in 1959.

Vijay Kranti, a Sino-Indian analyst and journalist, told RFA’s Tibetan Service the meeting represented a “very significant diplomatic development at the international level. It simply shows a big change for the Tibetan movement.”

Kranti said the meeting sent a message to Beijing and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who made an unannounced visit to the Tibetan capital Lhasa last week. Chinese state media did not cover the visit until two days after it happened.

“It is a very interesting contrast that has happened within just one week. Secretary Blinken met with the Dalai Lama’s representative openly, but Xi Jinping had to visit Tibet in secret,” Kranti said.

“This will also send a message to the Indian government, the European Union, and all those countries who had been waiting for years for some kind of initiative on Tibet, and they could join too,” he said.

The latest in a series of U.S. contacts with the CTA shows that President Joe Biden is delivering on his campaign promises regarding Tibet, says Tenzin Lhadon, a research fellow at the Dharamshala, India-based Tibet Policy Institute.

“President Joe Biden said that if elected, his administration will meet with the Dalai Lama and work on resolving the Tibetan issue, and the administration also as mandated by last year’s Tibet Policy and Support Act 2020, I think this visit reassures Biden administration’s commitment to Tibetan issue”. 

The Tibetan Policy Support Act of 2020 affirms the right of Tibetans to choose their next Dalai Lama, whose advancing age has brought to the fore uncertainties in recent years over his possible successor. Beijing claims the right to name his successor and the 86-year-old Dalai Lama says that any future Dalai Lama will be born outside of China.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson, when asked about Blinken’s meeting with Dongchung, told RFA in an email that Washington respected “the Dalai Lama’s dedication to the rights of all people, including Tibetans around the world.”

“The United States also supports Tibetans’ religious freedom and their distinct religious, cultural, and linguistic identity. We respect Tibetans’ right to select, educate, and venerate their own leaders, like the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, according to their own beliefs, and without government interference,” the spokesperson said.

Formerly an independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force 70 years ago, following which Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers fled into exile in India and other countries around the world.

Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on Tibet and on Tibetan-populated regions of western China, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to imprisonment, torture, and extrajudicial killings.

Reported by Lobsang Gelek for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Eugene Whong. 


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