By Elizabeth Roche | Live Mint
NEW DELHI, India, 16 October 2020
In a move that is expected to exacerbate frictions between the US and China, the head of the Tibetan government-in-exile in India, Lobsang Sangay, on Thursday met the newly appointed US special coordinator for Tibetan issues Robert Destro.
Sangay, who lives in exile in India and heads the Central Tibetan Authority shared a picture of his meeting with Destro in Washington on Facebook.
“Great honor to meet with the Special Coordinator on Tibetan Issues Robert A Destro. This is the first time in six decades, a Sikyong (President) of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) was formally invited inside the State Department,” Sangay said in his post.
Sangay also took the opportunity to thank US secretary of state Mike Pompeo for appointing Destro as the special coordinator earlier this week – something the Chinese foreign ministry responded sharply to on Thursday. “I want to thank the State Department for acknowledging the democratically elected leader of CTA and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for approving the visit. History is made today!” Sangay said in his post.
Destro was on Thursday confirmed as the special coordinator for Tibetan issues, after Pompeo named him to the post earlier this week. The appointment is seen as a move to exert pressure on China on the autonomy of Tibet and bring issues concerning human rights and forced labour to the fore. Incidentally, Destro was part of a delegation visited Taiwan recently with US undersecretary of state for economic growth Keith Krach.
News reports said Pompeo had criticised the Chinese government in a statement in which he said that the US “remains concerned with the PRC (People’s Republic of China)’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.”
China had hit back calling the appointment an attempt to interfere in China’s domestic affairs. Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the appointment is a case of political manipulation. “Tibet affairs are China’s internal affairs that allow no foreign interference. The setting up of the so-called coordinator for Tibetan issues is entirely out of political manipulation to interfere in China’s internal affairs and destabilise Tibet. China firmly opposes that,” Zhao told reporters on Thursday.