‘My office committed to advocating autonomy of Tibet’

Next priority is to make official US policy on Tibet: Sangay.

 The US has the right to have whatever meetings it wants and his office is committed to advocate the autonomy of Tibet within China, US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Robert A. Destro, has said.

He talked tough on China’s criticism of his recent meeting with Tibetan President Lobsang Sangay during the latter’s visit to the US.

“While they (China) have the right to criticise the meeting, we have the right to have whatever meetings we want,” Destro told Tibet TV.

Destro said he was amazed by the overwhelming response from the Tibetan community and the “desire to engage”.

Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) President Sangay this month met Destro and other high-ranking functionaries at the White House.

“We were so happy to have President Lobsang Sangay at the State Department. We have been reaching out and will continue to reach out into the Tibetan diaspora community around the world and see if we can really get to know people as quickly as we can,” said CTA-run Tibet TV quoting Destro as saying.

In response to the rebuke from the Chinese Foreign Ministry over the meeting, a first-of-its-kind initiative to boost the support to the Tibetan cause, the US Additional Secretary and Special Tibet Coordinator said: “I don’t take their criticisms seriously.”

Describing himself as a big fan of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Destro said he was moved by the video message of His Holiness at the funeral ceremony of late President of Taiwan, Li Teng Hui.

“I have always been a big fan of the Dalai Lama and after watching the video, I was very moved. He is indeed a very inspirational person. You can see why he is taken so seriously around the world and his comments about the late president were truly heartfelt and inspiring,” he said.

As for his policy towards China after having appointed as the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Destro said his office is committed to advocate the autonomy of Tibet within China and to foster the ‘middle-way approach’ proposed by the Dalai Lama with China and the like-minded neighbouring countries.

For Tibetans around the world, Destro said he seeks their prayers for the challenging job and assured that both he and the US are inclined to take the extra mile to get the job done.

Describing his meeting with Destro on October 15 as historic and recognition to the government-in-exile, Sangay told IANS that the next priority of his government is passing the Tibet Policy and Support Act in the Senate.

“This Act builds on the Tibet Policy and Support Act of 2002 and will be a major update to the US policy on Tibet.

“Among important updates, passing of this Act will make it the official policy of the US to see that the selection of Tibetan Buddhist leaders, including the future Dalai Lama, follows the wishes of the Tibetan Buddhist community and according to the instructions of current Dalai Lama without any influence from the Chinese government,” Sangay told IANS on Thursday.

Without mincing words, he added, “The Act will also forbid China from opening a new consulate until a US consulate is allowed in Lhasa.”

The Dalai Lama has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959. The Tibetan exile administration is based in this hill town.