Pelosi urges Trump to raise rights violations in Tibet with Xi

Pelosi urges Trump to raise rights violations in Tibet with Xi

A top Democratic leader has urged US President Donald Trump to raise violations of human rights in Tibet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, alleging the Communist regime "works to eliminate" the Tibetan religion.

"President Xi's government works to control and eliminate the Tibetan culture and religion, including through the gross mistreatment of nuns and monks and even the demolition of the Larung Gar monastery," Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to Trump.

Her letter, dated April 5, was released to media today, ahead of the scheduled meeting between Trump and Xi.

Pelosi said Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is revered across the world and that has led the Chinese government to fear him and imprison those who express respect for him. "The violations of human rights in China and Tibet challenge the conscience of the world."

"If we are to be true to our values, we cannot ignore that challenge nor forget the long list of those imprisoned for their religious and political beliefs, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo," she said.

China sees the 81-year-old Buddhist leader as a dangerous separatist and is averse to his meetings with world leaders.

Pelosi said if the US fails to speak up for human rights in China because of commercial interests, "we lose all moral authority to speak out for human rights anyplace in the world."

The Democratic leader said she was writing "respectfully to request" Trump that he raise China's "severe repression" during his meeting with President Xi, who is visiting the US.

Trump and Xi will meet over two days until tomorrow at Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida. Xi is not being hosted at the White House in Washington DC, though the Florida residence is now being called the southern White House.

Pelosi's letter comes after the Trump administration said it will raise human rights issues with the countries concerned privately as it is "the most effective way" to deal with those issues.

The statement was this administration's starkest departure from the position Barack Obama's government held on human rights. Obama's administration had on several occasions made human rights the most potent vehicle of America's public diplomacy and even publicly mentioned a country to name and shame it.

Pelosi also said the US-China relationship must include fair trade and open markets, however, human rights are also "integral to a fair trading relationship in countries like China that exploit prison labour, engage in other unfair labor practices, and stifle free speech and dissent.

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