While in China for this year’s APEC summit, U.S. President Barack Obama was asked about the ongoing situation in Tibet. Shortly after the President agreed to a climate change deal on behalf of the United States Wednesday, he said, “We recognize Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China. We are not in favor of independence.”
“But we did encourage Chinese authorities to take steps to preserve the unique cultural, religious and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people,” Mr. Obama added.
President Obama made the remarks at a joint news conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Before the comments regarding Tibet, both had just agreed to a deal that would see the U.S. employ immediate emission reduction measures, while China would only commit to revisiting the issue in the year 2030.
Although the President did meet with the Dalai Lama in February, much to the chagrin of China, he still held the position that the United States would not support an independent Tibet.
Photo: Center for Justice and Accountability
Buddhism is a key religious institution in Tibet, and although it is formally recognized by the Chinese government, religion as a whole is largely frowned upon by the ruling Communist Party. After Tibetans were viewed as a threat to the mainland’s proposed communist utopia, supporters of Mao’s Cultural Revolution destroyed thousands of Tibetan monasteries. Human rights groups have often found that Buddhist monks and nuns face heavy persecution, with some being tortured and/or killed for refusing to comply with ruling authorities.