US should raise Tibet issue with new Chinese leaders: Sangay
The US can make its "Asia pivot even more meaningful by raising the issue of Tibet with China", said Lobsang Sangay, the democratically elected leader of the Tibetan people, as new Chinese leaders were announced in Beijing.
"Tibetans in Tibet are crying out for justice, including autonomy and freedom to worship they have been promised by Beijing over the years," the political successor of the Dalai Lama said in an opinion piece published in Wall Street Journal Wednesday.
A day later, Xi Jinping was elected the powerful general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and he in turn introduced six other newly-elected members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau.
Sangay said some 72 Tibetans have set themselves on fire (in Tibet), 70 of them since March 2011, and five in one day this month alone. The common cry of all self-immolators is the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans.
Describing US President Barack Obama's visit to Asia, his first foreign trip after re-election, as his administration's foreign policy pivot to Asia, the elected head of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said the Tibetans have invested in democracy and non-violence for the last five decades.
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made reassuring statements on US commitment to human rights and democracy, and Ambassador Gary Locke recently visited Tibetan areas. The next four years present an opportunity for the Obama administration to build on the positive start from the visit to the three Asian Buddhist countries and make its Asia pivot even more meaningful by raising the issue of Tibet with China."
Solving the Tibet problem will help improve relations between China and India, said 43-year-old Sangay adding that it would allow Tibetans to resume their traditional role of being responsible stewards of Tibet's immense natural resources.
"When peaceful and sustained protests swept Tibet in 2008, many Chinese intellectuals, writers and human rights activists, including Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Nobel laureate, signed an open letter to the Chinese government calling on the authorities to stop its one-sided propaganda and to resolve the issue through dialogue," he said.
"This, I believe, is the current sentiment of many in China and the aspiration of Tibetans in Tibet. President Obama's leadership on this shared sentiment will give a much-needed human rights dimension to America's Asia pivot," he added.
Sangay took over the reins of the exile government last year from 74-year-old monk scholar Samdhong Rinpoche, who held the post for the past 10 years.
With the Dalai Lama stepping down from diplomacy and active politics, the elected leader of Tibetan people, earlier known as the prime minister-in-exile, has acquired added stature.
The Dalai Lama has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959. The Tibetan exile administration is based in this northern Indian hill town.