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US Congress Delegation Meeting Dalai Lama Sends Powerful Message To China: Lobsang Sangay

Lobsang Sangay

The seven-member US Congressional delegation’s recent meeting with the Dalai Lama sends a very powerful message to China, says Lobsang Sangay, former Sikyong of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Hailing the bipartisan delegation’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sangay described it as symbolic as well as politically significant.

Speaking to StratNews Global, Dr Sangay said:” PM Modi tweeting about his meeting with the US delegation after they met the Dalai Lama and after former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others made strong statements is, if not a direct endorsement but an indication that I gave you what you are saying.’’

He went on to say, “We are very grateful to the Indian government for stating it very clearly that they are standing with the US delegation in supporting Tibet. A large number of Tibetans are in India. The Dalai Lama has always said that he is a son of India. We hope and always pray that India will speak about India. There is no country in the world which has supported Tibetans more than India.’’

He added that the Resolve Tibet Act conveys a very clear stand of America.

He said that the US Congressional delegation’s meeting with Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama underscored the US’ commitment to advocating for truth and justice despite China’s opposition. “They sent a very powerful message to Beijing that you will try to occupy, continue to occupy and repress Tibetans, but America will keep speaking for truth and justice.

The delegation led by Congressman Michael McCaul and including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, called on the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala.

Dr Sangay who ran the Tibetan government-in-exile for 10 years, said: “I am very happy with the US delegation led by leader Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the Congress, and the chairman Michael McCaul of this foreign affairs committee. The Republicans and Democrats have come all the way across continents to come to Dharamshala, meet with His Holiness, get his blessing, that is, to demonstrate the US government and people’s support for Tibet. So this is a big deal.’’

Describing Nancy Pelosi as “a very brave lady’’ and her statement as a “very strong statement for Tibetans’’, he said: “We are very lucky to have a leader like her.’’

Earlier this week, the US Congress passed a bill urging Beijing to re-engage with the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan leaders to peacefully resolve their dispute over the status and governance of Tibet. ‘The Resolve Tibet Act’ urges Beijing to re-engage with Tibetan leaders for a peaceful resolution of their governance dispute with China.

Sangay said: “The Dalai Lama is simply going to the US for medical services but it makes very good sense for President Biden to meet the Dalai Lama and keep his pre-election promise. All the previous Presidents have met the Dalai Lama. If President Biden signs it into a law on the Dalai Lama’s 90th birthday on July 6 (according to lunar calendar), it will be the best gift to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people.’’

He said that the Act is very powerful because it talks about the historical status of Tibet being an independent country and Tibetans, as per international law, deserving self-determination. “It is in China’s interest to talk, to have dialogue with the envoys of the Dalai Lama to resolve the issue of Tibet peacefully.”

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Expressing gratitude to India, Lobsang Sangay said that India has done the most for Tibetans. “You are our best allies. There is more than formal recognition that we are able to function here and we have our Parliament here. It is because of the greatness of this country.’’

He accused China of exploiting Tibetan identity, language and culture since the Chinese troops entered the Tibet region on October 7, 1950.

“China occupied our country, brutalised our people, around a million Tibetans died because of killing, starvation and suicides. Monasteries were destroyed, treasures were looted, burnt and sold,’’ Lobsang Sangay said.

On the Chinese government’s interference in the succession of the 14th Dalai Lama, the former Sikyong said: “The Chinese have no business whatsoever. They destroyed monasteries, they are communists, they are atheists. They don’t believe in religion, they have no right to select our religious leader.”

He added that the Dalai Lamas were always selected by the Regent of Tibet.

Asked if he ever felt that the Tibetan cause was a lost cause, Lobsang said: “We are Buddhists. We believe in the notion of impermanence. You are born and you die. Wherever you are today, you might not be there tomorrow. Everything is a cycle, so there is always a hope. There is a Tibetan nation, there is a Tibetan civilization, there are Tibetan people and there is a Tibetan cause. That will always be alive, no matter what”.

Talking of the perseverance of Tibetans, he said: “Tibetans are rugged people. We believe in ourselves. For any freedom struggle, you have to believe in yourself. Buddhism is flourishing in Tibet in personal space. The Chinese will never succeed. Empires come and go. China will inevitably go. Remember the Buddhist notion of Karma.’’

In an obvious reference to Xi Jinping, the Sikyong said “all these dictators will go to Hell. They will pay their price.’’

Lobsang Sangay is the first person who served as the Tibetan Prime Minister without a monastic background. Born in Darjeeling in 1968 in a refugee community, he earned a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Delhi. He studied international law and democracy at Harvard University. Later, he became an American citizen.

Meanwhile, Randhir Jaiswal, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said at the weekly briefing today that the US delegation which was on a visit to India from June 16 to 20, discussed various aspects of India-US Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in meetings with the Prime Minister, the External Affairs Minister and the Commerce Minister.

Replying to questions, the spokesperson said that the Indian government’s position on the Dalai Lama has been very clear and consistent. “He is a revered religious leader and is deeply respected by the people of India. His Holiness is accorded due courtesies and freedom to conduct his religious and spiritual activities.’’

Asked if India would disassociate with statements made by Nancy Pelosi, the MEA official spokesperson said: “As regards the statements made by the US delegation, I would say that you take your questions to them because they will be in a better position to answer what they mean by it.’’