Obama Calls for Tibet Talks

U.S. President Barack Obama calls on Beijing to restart talks with the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Obama-and-Wen-305.jpg U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao prior to talks in Beijing, Nov. 18, 2009.

BEIJING—U.S. President Barack Obama began wrapping up a three-day state visit to China on Wednesday with a call on Beijing to start talks with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, whom the ruling Communist Party has shunned as a separatist.

While affirming that the United States considers the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) to be a part of the People's Republic of China, Obama called on Beijing to re-initiate stalled talks with envoys of the Dalai Lama, whom China has ruled out of Tibet's future.

"The United States supports the early resumption of dialogue between the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve any concerns and differences that the two sides may have," ran the text of a joint communique issued by Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao.

Hu called on the United States not to allow what he called movements aimed at "separating China" to be active on its soil.

The Dalai Lama, now visiting Italy to win support for his "Middle Way" policy of insisting on greater autonomy and better treatment for Tibetans under Chinese rule, welcomed Obama's comments.

"The real problem is the [Chinese] policy toward minorities, which is unjust and unilateral, involving failure to show respect or consideration for those minorities' cultural heritage or for their life style," he was quoted by the Italian newspaper La Republica as saying.

"The trouble is that there is an authoritarian regime in China," he added, saying that the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile is currently studying various models of autonomy to raise with Chinese officials.

Hu told reporters after his meeting with Obama that he hoped Washington would understand and support Beijing's stance and concerns.

He called on the Obama administration to "properly manage the Taiwan issue, and disallow any Tibetan independence supporters or 'East Turkistan forces' to commit to any moves on the American soil that would separate China," said Hu, referring to Muslim ethnic Uyghur groups who oppose Chinese rule in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Pressure on human rights

The joint communique issued by the two leaders emphasized increased exchange and cooperation in education, business, and technology.

But apart from a brief reference to freedom of information online, pressure on Beijing's human rights issues has been relatively low down the list of priorities on Obama's visit, analysts said.

"The U.S. has made a mistake of historical proportions," said U.S.-based scholar Zhu Xueyuan, referring to the global financial meltdown.

"It has mired itself in huge international debt, and therefore has very little negotiating power."

"It is in a dire situation which it can not get itself out of easily. It is not likely to start effective or substantive discussions with China on human rights," Zhu said.

Sichuan-based online commentator Ran Yunfei said the Obama administration is seen as taking less of a hard line on democracy, religious freedom, and human rights than his predecessors.

"They are definitely not as tough as before," Ran said. "I think it's good that Obama is now emphasising dialogue and cooperation."

"But I want to be clear, at a time when most Chinese people's human rights are being violated, does the money ... that you take away from your cooperation with China bear the blood of China's people?"

"This is an issue which Obama cannot neglect, and I don't think he has dealt with it very well so far," Ran added.

Original reporting in Mandarin by Shen Hua and Yan Xiu, and in Cantonese by Pan Jiaqing. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Cantonese service director: Shiny Li. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

Anonymous says:
Nov 20, 2009 12:31 AM

Talks about Tibet I hope is just "Tibet" and not the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh which the Chinese consider southern tibet

Anonymous says:
Nov 23, 2009 01:59 PM

Do not comment or talk when our mind is not calm. Let respect other people perspectives, wait and see what's happening with Obama's policy towards China. Courtesy not meant the weak point of strong leader.

Anonymous says:
Nov 20, 2009 12:42 AM

well written story

Anonymous says:
Nov 26, 2009 12:51 AM

that mr opama should really feel or see how is really situation in tibet

Anonymous says:
Jan 15, 2010 01:17 AM

After sixty years of oppression and lack or freedom and human rights i request Mr President Dr Barack Husseim Obama to give an stronger answer to help HH Dalai Lama and tibetan people murdered worse than animals after being tortured and separated from families and culture, language and religion. He is presiding the most powerful country in the whole planet and if he really is a democrat he "must" help Tibet in different ways and several strong decisions to stop this genocide. When one receive a Nobel Peace Award, one must deserve it. and terrorism is not only leaving bombs on airplanes or towers, this is also genocide and i ask you mr President....would you accept what tibetan support during 60 long years for your Children? Meditate on this. Listen Richard Gere`s voice and many others like me that love justice and freedom as we were born.

Anonymous says:
Nov 21, 2009 12:45 PM

America is weaker than China now. Everything sold in USA now are made by Chinese chip slave labor and America now is depend on China. In the next 20 years, America will be slaved to China.

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