Thank you, Madam Chairwoman and members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, for inviting me today. It’s my pleasure to be able to testify today on religious freedom, democracy and human rights as embodied in the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002. On behalf of Undersecretary of State Maria Otero, the Administration’s Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, I can tell you that the Department of State is aggressively implementing the provisions of the Act.
The Administration’s goals are twofold: to promote a substantive dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives, and to help sustain Tibet’s unique religious, linguistic, and cultural heritages. The Administration at all levels – from the President, Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Under Secretary Otero, Assistant Secretaries Campbell and Posner, to myself – has urged the Chinese Government to engage in a dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama that will achieve results. We remind the Chinese government that the vast majority of Tibetans advocate non-violent solutions to Tibetan issues and genuine autonomy – not independence or sovereignty – in order to preserve Tibet’s unique culture, religion and its fragile environment. Regrettably, the Chinese government has not engaged in a substantive dialogue with the Tibetans since January 2010.
The U.S. government believes that the Dalai Lama can be a constructive partner for China as it deals with the challenge of overcoming continuing tensions in Tibetan areas. The Dalai Lama’s views are widely reflected within Tibetan society, and command the respect of the vast majority of Tibetans. His consistent advocacy of non-violence is an important factor in reaching an eventual lasting solution. China’s engagement with the Dalai Lama or his representatives to resolve problems facing Tibetans is in the interests of the Chinese government and the Tibetan people. We believe failure to address these problems could lead to greater tensions inside China and could be an impediment to China’s social and economic development.
Another critical avenue for implementing the Act is our support for non-governmental organizations that work in Tibet and assist Tibetan refugees in the region. Both the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International
Development (AID) support cultural and linguistic preservation, sustainable development and environmental preservation in Tibet and Tibetan majority areas, as well as Tibetan refugee communities in other countries, through numerous programs. In addition, the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration continues its long-standing support for Tibetan refugees through ongoing support to non-governmental organizations as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In fiscal year 2010, $3.5 million was provided to support reception services, education, healthcare, and water and sanitation for Tibetan refugees in South Asia, including new arrivals from China. Under Secretary Otero recently visited our programs in India and Nepal where we assist Tibetan refugees, and where we are actively seeking ways to strengthen Tibetan refugee settlements.
The U.S. Agency for International Development’s India Mission expects to issue an award for a new $2 million, two-year program to support Tibetan settlements in India, Nepal, and Bhutan in July 2011. The new program will support the development of organic agriculture for selected Tibetan settlements in India, Nepal, and Bhutan; and build a workforce among Tibetan youth remaining in the settlements. USAID anticipates the program will result in increased economic opportunities which will encourage youth to remain in the settlements, strengthen community ties, and preserve cultural and linguistic traditions.
We are extremely concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in China and in particular in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas. Recent regulations restricting Tibetan language education, strict controls over the practice of Tibetan Buddhism and the arrests of prominent non-political Tibetans reflect the difficult human rights situation there today.
Religious restrictions in Tibetan areas have dramatically worsened in recent years. Discriminatory religious policies exacerbated tensions between Han Chinese and Tibetan Buddhists and triggered the 2008 riots that claimed the lives of Han and Tibetan civilians and police officers. Chinese authorities control Tibet’s monasteries, including the number of monks and nuns and interfere in the process of recognizing reincarnate lamas. Monks and nuns are forced to attend regular political “patriotic education” sessions which sometimes include forced denunciations of the Dalai Lama. . Reports state that as many as 300 monks were forcibly removed from Kirti again in April of this year, and paramilitary forces still have the monastery on lockdown. To date, we have no further information about the welfare and whereabouts of those monks that were removed.
The effects of China’s Tibet policies are well-documented in the separate Tibet sections of the State Department’s 2010 International Religious Freedom Report and the 2010 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in China, released by Secretary Clinton on April 8. Our reports state clearly that the Chinese government represses freedom of speech, religion, association and movement within Tibet and routinely commits serious human rights abuses including extrajudicial killings and detentions, arbitrary arrests and torture. Our reports also reference the forcible return of three Tibetans to China from Nepal in June 2010, the first confirmed case of forcible return of Tibetans from Nepal since 2003.
The Administration’s engagement on human rights issues in Tibet is high-level and consistent. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have spoken on these points directly to Chinese officials many times, including to President Hu during his January 2011 visit to Washington. The President and Secretary Clinton met with the Dalai Lama in February 2010, and the Secretary raised Tibetan issues directly and at length during the 2010 and 2011 Strategic and Economic Dialogues with China. Undersecretary Otero has met with the Dalai Lama four times since October 2009, and with his special envoy, Lodi Gyari, nine times in the past twelve months. Other senior officials have engaged Mr. Gyari as well.
During the April 2011 Human Rights Dialogue in Beijing, Assistant Secretary Posner and I raised our concerns about China’s counterproductive policies in Tibetan areas of China, reiterated our call for a resumption of dialogue, and raised specific cases. We were joined in that effort by then-Ambassador Huntsman, who visited the Tibetan Autonomous Region in September 2010. The U.S. Mission in China has made visiting Tibetan areas and engaging on human rights and religious freedom in Tibetan areas a top priority. While in Beijing in April, we met with United Front Work Department, which handles Tibet policy for the Chinese Government, and pressed the Chinese to set a date with Lodi Gyari for the next round of talks. We also met with Minister Wang Zuo’an from the State Administration of Religious Affairs. Separately, we provided to Chinese authorities a comprehensive list of individuals from across China who have been arrested or are missing; that list included many Tibetans, including six cases that we specifically mentioned in our meetings.
Our goals – to promote a substantive dialogue between the Chinese Government and the representatives of the Dalai Lama, and to help sustain Tibet’s unique religious, linguistic and cultural heritages – are designed to further the intent of the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 and create a more stable and more prosperous Tibet where Chinese authorities recognize and foster internationally recognized human rights. In furtherance of our goals, we have, since 2005, made the establishment of a consulate in Lhasa a priority. We continue to press the Chinese government to answer our request, while we reiterate our long-standing interest in regular and comprehensive access to Tibetan areas for international diplomats, journalists and non-governmental organizations. The State Department offers Tibetan language courses at our Foreign Service Institute and our staff at Consulate General Chengdu includes Tibetan speaking staff. In addition, we are working to translate our human rights and religious freedom reports into the Tibetan language. These measures reflect the Administration’s continuing commitment to fully and effectively implement the Act, so that Tibet’s unique culture and environment are preserved and allowed to prosper in the 21st century.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. I’ve just had a very productive meeting and luncheon with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang on a broad range of issues of mutual concern. As I said during my recent visit to Beijing, this is a very important relationship to both of our countries, and the United States intends to work together with China to build a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship, and to work together with China to address common challenges and seize common opportunities.
Minister Yang and I spent time laying the groundwork for the first meeting between our two presidents, which will take place at the London G-20 summit in April. We also consulted on preparations for the summit itself, and Minister Yang is heading over to see Secretary Geithner to continue that conversation.
The United States and China have a joint responsibility to help ensure that the summit yields tangible progress and concrete action steps toward a coordinated global response to stabilize the world’s economy and to begin a recovery.
We also covered a range of shared security challenges, including our efforts to achieve a denuclearized North Korea, to promote stability and progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to address the challenges posed by Iran. We talked about how we could work together to address the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and stem the suffering of more than 1.4 million people who have been put at risk by the actions of the Bashir government.
On climate change and clean energy, we discussed the upcoming meeting between our special envoy for climate change and his Chinese counterpart.
Now, Minister Yang and I also spoke about areas where we do not agree, including human rights and Tibet. The promotion of human rights, as I have said many times before, is an essential aspect of American global foreign policy. It is part of our use and definition of smart power. And it’s essential in an era where we are emphasizing diplomacy and development.
It has been a core belief of ours that every nation must not only live by, but help shape global rules that will determine whether people enjoy the right to live freely and participate to the fullest in their societies. Indeed, our own country must continually strive to live up to our own ideals.
Our bilateral relationships cover a broad range of issues, but we make clear to all nations, including China, that a mutual and collective commitment to human rights is important to bettering our world as our efforts on security, global economics, energy, climate change, and other pressing issues. With that in mind, Foreign Minister Yang and I discussed the resumption of the human rights dialogue between our two countries. While we may disagree on these issues, open discussions will continue to be a key part of our approach. And human rights is part of our comprehensive agenda.
I also raised our concerns about the recent incident involving the U.S. Navy ship Impeccable and the PRC vessels in the South China Sea. We both agreed that we should work to ensure that such incidents do not happen again in the future.
There is no doubt that world events have given the United States and China a full and formidable agenda. And the United States is committed to pursuing a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship with China, one that we believe is important for the future peace, progress, and prosperity not only for both of our countries, but indeed for the entire world.
And I’ll be happy to take some questions.
MR. WOOD: First one to Arshad.
SECRETARY CLINTON: How are you, Arshad?
QUESTION: Good, thanks. Secretary Clinton, on the Impeccable, do you continue to believe that the U.S. ship was in the right, was in international waters, and was harassed by the Chinese vessels? And do you think that with your agreement to try to avoid these things in the future that the case is now closed, or this is going to be a continued irritant in the relationship?
And on the G-20 preparations, do you think that China has done enough to stimulate its economy? And how do you answer the view that, given how heavily indebted the United States is, particularly to China, that you don’t have that much leverage over them on these matters?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Very comprehensive questions. (Laughter.) With respect to the Impeccable, we have each stated our positions. But the important point of agreement coming out of my discussions with Minister Yang is that we must work hard in the future to avoid such incidents, and to avoid this particular incident having consequences that are unforeseen. And I appreciate the agreement that Minister Yang and I hold on this matter.
With respect to the G-20, the important outcome of the G-20 is a recognition and agreement among the countries participating as to the steps that we must take individually and collectively to stimulate a global recovery by stimulating demand and making investments that will bear fruit as quickly as possible. I think that the significant stimulus that the Chinese have already committed to is a very positive step.
There are a number of issues related to the outcome in London that will have to be worked through between not only our two countries but all of the countries participating. And there’s a lot of hard work to do between now and the summit in London. But there is a great commitment and willingness on the part of both our government and the Chinese Government to play productive and constructive roles in helping to move the world toward this recovery that will be essential not only to get jobs growing again, but also to alleviate the suffering of the poorest people in the world who will bear the brunt of a stalled or falling economy.
You know, we each come to this with different strengths and weaknesses. We are still the largest economy in the world. We are a flexible, agile, incredibly dynamic economy. I have no doubt about our capacity to recover. It’s not going to be easy and it, you know, will take some time, but I am absolutely confident. I think the Chinese are equally committed to stimulating growth, to being able to help push the global economic agenda as well.
Obviously, we will have difficulties in dealing with the economic challenges we face. For China, they’re an export-driven country; they need consumers to buy those exports. For us, going into deficits to the extent we must in order to put in place our recovery plan is something we’re going to have to deal with; we can’t just ignore it, even though it may be necessary now. So you know, we bring different strengths to the table that we’re trying to utilize on behalf of global growth now, and then we’ll have to deal, as you always do, with the consequences of the actions we’re taking now.
MODERATOR: Next question will be Kirit Radia from ABC News.
QUESTION: Hi, Madame Secretary. I’d like to pick up on your comments on human rights. You’ve been criticized by human rights groups, and most recently The Washington Post editorial page just yesterday, for pulling your punches on human rights in China, especially leading up to this meeting today. Despite that criticism, do you still stand by your position that human rights should take – should not take a back seat to economic and environmental concerns, get in the way of your agenda there? What explicitly did you ask the foreign minister to do today with regard to human rights in China and in Tibet, and what do you plan on asking them during this upcoming dialogue? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, human rights is part of our comprehensive dialogue. It doesn’t take a front seat or a back seat or a middle seat; it is part of the broad range of issues that we are discussing. But it is important to try to create a platform for actually seeing results from our human rights engagement. It’s also important, as I said in my remarks, that, you know, that the United States live up to our own ideals, something that sets us apart as an exemplar of human rights. So the Obama Administration is absolutely committed to a robust, comprehensive human rights agenda. We’re going to look for ways where we can be effective, where we can actually produce outcomes that will matter in the lives of people who are struggling for their rights to be full participants in their societies.
So I think that there is no doubt about our commitment. We’re exploring different ways of being effective in delivering on that commitment, and whether it’s with China or any other nation, we’re going to continue to look for opportunities to not just talk about human rights, but actually to try to advance the agenda on human rights.
Later this afternoon, I’ll be giving awards to some extraordinarily courageous women who have stood up in their own countries against human rights abuses. We’re supporting them. We’re supporting their efforts, their organizations within their countries, to not only demonstrate the importance of human rights, but to actually make changes that will benefit the people that they are fighting for. So there are many ways that we’re going to pursue a human rights agenda.
MR. WOOD: I think we have a question from (inaudible). Please.
QUESTION: You mentioned the denuclearization of – in North Korea. And yesterday, Stephen Bosworth came back and you talked with him about his trip. My question is, what did you talk about with him yesterday, and did you talk about with foreign minister of China today, in case of a possible launch of a missile by North Korea? Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Ambassador Bosworth gave me a full report about his productive meetings in Tokyo, Seoul, and Beijing. As you know, he was not invited to go to North Korea, which we regret. He was prepared to go on a moment’s notice to begin discussions with the North Koreans.
As I have been doing with all of our Six-Party partners – I did it last Friday night in Geneva, with Foreign Minister Lavrov, again today with Foreign Minister Yang – we believe in the Six-Party Talks, and we believe in the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. We are committed to that. We would like to see the Six-Party Talks resume at the earliest possible moment. We are outspoken in our opposition to the North Korean’s missile launch, and we believe that that is a unified position, and that each of the members of the Six-Party Talks have attempted to dissuade North Korea from proceeding.
And we are also agreed that we will discuss a response if we are not successful in convincing them not to go forward with what is a very provocative act. And there are a range of options available to take action against the North Koreans in the wake of the missile launch, if they pursue that, but also to try to resume the Six-Party Talks. Let’s not confuse the two.
The goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula remains a paramount goal, and the Six-Party Talks framework should be restarted so that we can begin to work on that.
We need to have a conversation about missile – missiles, and it’s not – it wasn’t in the Six-Party Talks. We would like to see it be part of the discussion with North Korea. But most importantly, we would like to see North Korea evidence in some way their willingness to re-engage with all of us and to work together on the agenda that they agreed to in the Six-Party Talks. And that’s what we’re working for.
Thank – oh, are you waiting?
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, may I just –
MR. WOOD: We can take one last question (inaudible). One last quick question, please.
QUESTION: Mike Lavallee from TBS.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi.
QUESTION: Hi. Madame Secretary, I just kind of wanted to follow up on your – what you said about North Korea just now. First, with the Chinese minister, they see it a little bit differently than we do, whether it’s violating UN Resolution 1718, if they – launching for a satellite launch. And I was just wondering if you were able to get any headway about agreement on that with Minister Yang.
And secondly, it seemed like you were just saying now that even if they go ahead with a missile launch, that there still may be the possibility of continuing on with the Six-Party Talks. So I was just wondering if – is that the feeling, that they are completely separate issues and that we would be able to continue with Six Party even if there is a missile launch?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, we won’t know until it happens. What we are trying to do is to restart the Six-Party Talks as soon as possible. We think that’s in everyone’s interest to do so, to continue the disablement of the nuclear facilities, to work toward the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. We believe that the missile launch, for whatever purpose it is stated to be aimed at, is in violation of the Security Council resolution.
I think that our partners in the Six-Party Talks are concerned about the missile launch. They are willing to address it if it does happen with us in a variety of ways, including the Security Council. But I don’t want to, you know, talk about hypotheticals. We are still working to try to dissuade the North Koreans. But it is important to recognize that the North Koreans entered into obligations regarding denuclearization that we intend to try to hold them to. And that is something we’re going to do regardless of what happens with their – with what they may or may not launch in the future.
These Six-Party Talks are the vehicle that we have, which have proved – which has proven to be effective, which did set forth a set of obligations which the North Koreans agreed to. And we would like to get back to those and begin discussions as soon as it would be feasible, and we’re pushing that right now.
Thank you all very much.
Acting Department SpokesmanOffice of the Spokesman
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising. The United States respects the territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China and considers Tibet to be part of China. At the same time, we are deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Tibetan areas.
We described those concerns in our just-released Annual Country Report on human rights practices in China. We concluded that China’s Government has acted against global human rights standards by significantly increasing cultural and religious repression in Tibetan areas.
We urge China to reconsider its policies in Tibet that have created tensions due to their harmful impact on Tibetan religion, culture, and livelihoods. We believe that substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama’s representatives, consistent with the Dalai Lama’s commitment to disclaiming any intention to seek sovereignty or independence for Tibet, can lead to progress in bringing about solutions and can help achieve true and lasting stability in Tibet.