October 10, 2013 : Congressional-Executive Commission on China

Washington, DC—The bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China has released its 2013 Annual Report on human rights and rule of law developments in China, which it is required to do by October 10 of each year.

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Dalai Lama's top man heads to Canberra

Tsering Kyinzom Dhongdue, ATC’s Research & Government Relations Manager

31 August 2011

Paul and I were back in Parliament House last week as pollies returned to Canberra after their long winter break. Our small Tibet team was joined by Lodi Gyari Rinpoche, a lobbyist par excellence. In the last one year of my advocacy work on Tibet in the Australian parliament, this lobbying trip was the most rewarding in more ways than one.

A formidable speaker with two decades of experience in Washington, Gyari Rinpoche made a compelling case for Tibet to our political leaders. Knowing he is the Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy and has been the main negotiator with the Chinese government for 26-odd years, our politicians understood the importance of his role. We met a range of pollies including Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, the Greens spokesperson on Tibet, and MP Ken Wyatt, the first indigenous MP and one of our newest parliamentary friends. Deputy-Speaker Peter Slipper MP hosted a small reception which gave Gyari Rinpoche the opportunity for a relaxed informal discussion with a number of parliamentarians.

Gyari Rinpoche addressed the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, perhaps the most important parliamentary committee for Tibet, and met members of the Parliamentary Group for Tibet. MP Melissa Parke made a statement in the House acknowledging his visit to the Parliament and encouraged the Australian government to push the Chinese and the Tibetans to further their dialogue process.

Gyari Rinpoche also met the head of the China section at Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was able to send a clear message to the Australian government on taking a stronger position on the Tibet issue. Another highlight of the Canberra trip was his roundtable discussion with academics at the Australian National University. Perhaps for the first time, leading China scholars in the country, including the university chancellor and former foreign minister, Gareth Evans, had the opportunity for a robust discussion on the protracted Tibet issue with a Tibetan who has been a central figure in many defining moments of the Sino-Tibet conflict over the last five decades.

In Sydney, Gyari Rinpoche did media interviews for ABC Radio National, ABC TV and SBS Mandarin service. Listen to the ABC Sunday Profile program here and stay tuned for the dates on others. He met a number of Chinese democracy activists and gave a riveting and packed out public talk reflecting on his many years of engagement with the Chinese government.

Watching Gyari Rinpoche at work during those three days in Canberra has given the ATC team a renewed sense of optimism and purpose. At a personal level, it was a humbling and an empowering experience.

So what are key messages our team led by Gyari Rinpoche delivered to the Australian government this week?

·         Tibet’s new political leader Dr Lobsang Sangay is as equally committed as the Dalai Lama towards a peaceful resolution of the Tibet issue and the Middle Way Approach.

·         The Dalai Lama, with his moral and historical credibility, and now devoid of his political responsibilities, could be an important bridge between the Tibetan people and the Chinese government. China should give up its hostile rhetoric on the Dalai Lama and see in the revered spiritual leader a good opportunity to resolve the Tibet issue.

·         A strong bilateral relationship between Australia and China is also important for the Tibetans. It is because of the good relationship with China that Australia can stand firm on its moral principles and be honest with the Chinese government.

·         Australia is an important player in the region and it should not spoil China. The issue of Tibet is deeply connected to the issue of stability in China and in the region.

·         The China-Tibet dialogue, that resumed in 2002 and broke down in 2010, failed because of a great deal of mistrust and the lack of political will from the Chinese side.

The struggle for Tibet is not just pursued by the exile Tibetans or Tibet supporters. It is now a fully home-grown movement led by young educated Tibetans who have grown up under the Chinese system.