The Trump administration appointed a senior official to oversee Tibetan issues after a vacancy for almost four years, as the US increases pressure on China over its human rights record, including the use of forced labor among ethnic minorities.
“The United States remains concerned with the PRC’s repression of the Tibetan community, including the lack of meaningful autonomy, the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas, and severe restrictions on Tibetans’ religious freedom and cultural traditions within China,” Pompeo said in a statement, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Wednesday named Robert Destro as the US’s new Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues. Destro will primarily be responsible for advancing dialogue between Beijing and the Dalai Lama and protecting the religious, cultural and linguistic identity of Tibetans, according to the State Department.
China’s authority over Tibet has long been an irritant in US-China relations, with support for the region’s autonomy and its exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, often a bipartisan issue in Washington. The US in July imposed travel restrictions on Chinese officials determined to be “substantially involved” in restricting access to Tibet.
Tibet and the neighboring region of Xinjiang have long endured intense social, security and religious controls, as China seeks to suppress what it calls terrorist and separatist elements. Last month, prominent researcher Adrian Zenz released a report alleging that China is instituting a mass labor system in Tibet similar to the one that has ensnared Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.
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