Washington, DC — Calling the statement "silly and narrow-minded", a senior US lawmaker has lashed out against Chinese government criticism over a recent US delegation's visit to Tibetan community in Dharamshala, India.
Eliot Engel's comments came after a "Public Felicitation Ceremony hosted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama" at the main Temple in Dharamshala, India, on May 10, 2017, in honor of the visit by a US bipartisan Congressional delegation.
"That's the negative and narrow-minded attitude that the Chinese government has taken," Engel, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives' powerful Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an interview to Hindustan Times, in the sharpest response yet to Beijing from a member of the delegation.
"If they have nothing to hide, then they shouldn't mind us going. We can't let the Chinese through political pressure or economic pressure make us forget about the plight of the Tibetan people, or make us forget about human rights and religious freedom issues," he added.
Engel's remarks against China were most significant, however, given Beijing's obsessive insecurities about the Dalai Lama. "Chinese government is a strong government. Their military is strong. I don't think that the Dalai Lama, aged 82 (he is actually 81), represents any sign of threat to them," Engel said.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson had said the visit "to meet the Dalai Lama sent a very wrong signal to the world about Tibet independence and goes against the United States' promises on Tibet. China firmly opposes this and has lodged solemn representations with the US."
The spokesperson had added: "We urge relevant Congress people in the US to carefully handle the Tibet issue, stop all communications with the Dalai Lama and take immediate measures to deal with the negative impact of the visit."
Calling the statement "silly and narrow-minded", Congressman Engel said, "We support a One-China policy. But again, the Dalai Lama is not asking to be a separate country, he's just asking for autonomy within China, within Tibet. And I don't think that's too much to ask."
He went on to endorse His Holiness the Dalai Lama's demand that Tibetans should choose his successor, and not China. "I don't think that the Chinese in Beijing should determine who the next Dalai Lama is ... let people to do that," Engel said.
Asked if he would like India and the US to coordinate their actions on Chins, he said, "I don't think we want to be enemies with the Chinese. But I think we both look at some of their more aggressive moves with consternation. And that's why I'd like (to talk about) the manoeuvres being done between India and United States, Japan and Australia. And I've been pushing for that. I mentioned that to Prime Minister Modi as well."
"Let the people of Tibet practice their faith. Let the people of Tibet determine their own future. We will never stop until Tibet is free. Our message to the Chinese government is simple: Get out of Tibet,” Engel said during the US delegation's visit to Dharamshala.
Tibet was invaded by the Communist regime in China, starting in 1949. Since that time, over 1.2 million out of 6 Tibetans died as a direct result of China's invasion and continued occupation of Tibet, over 6000 monasteries have been looted and destroyed— Crimes against Humanity and Genocide include murder, massacres, torture, rape, starvation, extreme deprivation, forced marches, enslavement, brutal violence, and systematic extermination. The communist regime continues to call this a 'peaceful liberation', that the "Tibetans are living in a Maoist socialist paradise."