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Tibetan exile leader set to visit Washington in April

Tibetan exile leader Penpa Tsering will visit Washington D.C. from April 25 to 29 at the invitation of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Tsering confirmed to RFA in an interview on Tuesday.

The Washington visit will be followed by visits to Canada and Germany, the Sikyong, or elected head of Tibet’s India-based Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), added.

“We have received an official invitation from the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who has been a strong supporter and advocate for Tibet,” Tsering told RFA.

“We will also be meeting with the State Department’s special coordinator for Tibetan issues Uzra Zeya and with many other government and non-governmental officials.”

“Over the last decades, and especially under the leadership and authoritarian policies of Chinese president Xi Jinping, we have seen Tibetans face more and more religious and cultural repression aimed at wiping out the Tibetan identity,” Tsering said.

A CTA report detailing what Tsering called the “urgent issues” surrounding Tibet’s environment and language and human rights situation, and prepared for submission to Xi Jinping, is being temporarily held back for “a number of reasons,” the Sikyong said.

“One of these of course is the ongoing concern over Russia and Ukraine,” he said.

CTA departments and a Permanent Strategy Committee established by the Sikyong are now working together to push again for a resumption of a Sino-Tibetan dialogue on Tibet’s status under Chinese rule, Tsering said.

Nine rounds of talks were previously held between envoys of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and high-level Chinese officials beginning in 2002, but stalled in 2010 and were never resumed.

Divisions persist in the Tibetan exile community—about 150,000 people living in 40 countries—over how best to advance the rights of the 6.3 million Tibetans living in China, with some calling for a restoration of the independence lost when Chinese troops marched into Tibet in 1950.

Penpa Tsering, a former speaker of Tibet’s exile parliament in Dharamsala, won a closely fought April 11, 2021 election to become Sikyong held in Tibetan communities worldwide.

The fifth elected CTA leader, Tsering replaced Lobsang Sangay, a Harvard-trained scholar of law, who had served two consecutive five-year terms as Sikyong, an office filled since 2011 by popular vote.

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.