Dharamshala — US House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has led a delegation on a rare trip by foreign politicians to Tibet, during a visit to China that included meetings with officials in Beijing.
Pelosi, the former House speaker, has been a frequent critic of China's human rights record, including in Tibet where Beijing is accused of suppressing demands for greater religious and cultural freedoms.
Meeting in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Zhang Dejiang, the head of China's largely rubber-stamp parliament, the National People's Congress, and third-ranked Communist Party leader, said he was pleased to see Pelosi looking well after her trip.
Pelosi's visit to Tibet was not announced in advance, and her trip became apparent only when Zhang said, "Madame Pelosi you have been to Tibet. I was concerned about your health. I can see there is nothing wrong with your health. This shows your health is very good. I want to first hear your impressions of your visit to Tibet."
Pelosi responded that she had shared some views on Tibet at an earlier meeting, and hoped "that some of that conversation will be useful as we try to talk about some other subjects as well".
Pelosi made no direct reference to Tibet in her opening comments at the meeting with Zhang at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of the legislature in the heart of Beijing.
"We consider (the meeting) an important one, to be with your distinguished colleagues, as we increase our relationship between the two Congresses and we'll talk about our two countries as well and the success of the presidents' meetings," Pelosi said.
The visit by Pelosi and six other Democrats was intended to focus on boosting trade ties, along with talks on national and cyber security, climate change and human rights.
Pelosi has been outspoken on the issue of human rights in Tibet throughout her nearly 30 years as a Democrat representing California in Congress. She last travelled to China in 2009.
Pelosi was joined by Democratic representatives Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Betty McCollum and Tim Walz of Minnesota, Joyce Beatty of Ohio and Alan Lowenthal and Ted Lieu of California.
The last visit to Tibet made by any U.S. government representative was in May 2015 when Ambassador to China Max Baucus and his wife spent four days in the region.