Tibet: US Ambassador Concerned about Chinese Government's interference in Freedom of Religion
During a recent visit in the region, the U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad expressed his concerns regarding the situation in Tibet. Invited by the Chinese foreign ministry, he was given the chance to visit Tibet to notice what China described as “earth-shaking changes since Tibet’s liberation”. The Ambassador invites Chinese authorities to engage in a dialogue to secure Buddhists’ freedom of religion.
The article below was published by The Japan News
The U.S. ambassador to China urged Beijing to engage in substantive dialogue with exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama during a visit to the Himalayan region over the past week, the U.S. Embassy said Saturday.
Terry Branstad also “expressed concerns regarding the Chinese government’s interference in Tibetan Buddhists’ freedom to organize and practice their religion,” an embassy statement said.
“He encouraged the Chinese government to engage in substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, to seek a settlement that resolves differences,” it said.
Branstad also raised long-standing concerns about the lack of consistent access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The rare visit to the TAR and neighboring Qinghai province ran from Sunday through Saturday.
Hosted by the Tibet Autonomous Region government, Branstad was given access to important religious and cultural sites, including the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Norbulingka, and Sera Monastery in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. He also met with senior Tibetan religious and cultural leaders, the embassy said.
China tightly restricts access to Tibet by foreigners, especially journalists and diplomats. In response to those restrictions, the U.S. Congress last year passed an act that would deny entry to the United States for those involved in formulating or enforcing such policies.
There was no immediate response from Beijing, although Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang last week said China welcomed Branstad to witness the “earth-shaking changes in the people’s production and life since Tibet’s peaceful liberation more than 60 years ago.”
“I hope that this visit to Tibet can help Ambassador Branstad make a conclusion without prejudice in the spirit of respecting the facts ... instead of being confused and disturbed by some long-standing hearsay and defamatory speeches,” Lu said at a regularly scheduled briefing.
Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore