Date
18 December 2017
Nancy Pelosi and Premier Li Keqiang meet last weekend during the Democratic lawmakers' visit to China. Photo: AFP
Nancy Pelosi and Premier Li Keqiang meet last weekend during the Democratic lawmakers' visit to China. Photo: AFP

US lawmakers see hope for common ground with China on Tibet

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the US House of Representatives, said an opportunity exists to find “common ground” with Chinese authorities on Tibet, Reuters reported.

Pelosi, a longtime critic of China’s human rights record, took a group of congressional Democrats to China this month, on a trip that included a rare visit to Tibet, which China has ruled since 1950.

She said that while Chinese President Xi Jinping had rejected independence for Tibet, the United States and Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, only wanted autonomy.

“So if they [Chinese authorities] think it is about independence, he [Dalai Lama] says it’s about autonomy, we only support autonomy … then I think there is an opportunity to find common ground,” Pelosi told a news conference Tuesday.

The congressional delegation was the first allowed to enter Tibet since widespread unrest there in 2008.

Congressman Jim McGovern, chairman of a congressional human rights commission, cited “some very heated exchanges with” Chinese officials during the trip, which ended last week.

“I can’t tell you with certainty that the Chinese government will agree to do X, Y and Z, but I don’t think any of us came away feeling that the door was entirely closed on anything,” McGovern said.

Rights groups and exiles say China tramples on the cultural and religious rights of Tibet’s Buddhist people.

China asserts that it has brought much needed development to what was a backward region.

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