Statements on the status of Tibet by different countries
These statements were made in different circumstances and for different purposes and are not all directly comparable. Some (Ireland, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA) are comprehensive declarations on Tibet policies, some (Germany, USA) are brief remarks at meetings with Chinese leaders and some are unilateral statements issued as a result of Chinese pressure (Denmark, France). Others were produced in the context of the uprising in Tibet in 2008 (Australia, Denmark, the EU, Sweden).
Compiled by the Tibet Support Committee, Denmark, February 2010
"Australia like most other countries recognises China’s sovereignty over Tibet.
But we also believe it is necessary to recognise there are significant human rights problem in Tibet. The current situation in Tibet is of concern to Australians.
We recognise the need for all parties to avoid violence and find a solution through dialogue. As a long-standing friend of China I intend to have a straightforward discussion with China’s leaders on this."
Speech by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to students at Beijing University.
Source: The Australian, April 09, 2008
"Canada Welcomes New China-Dalai Lama Talks
(No. 42 - January 25, 2010 - 4:30 p.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence
Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following
statement welcoming the first meeting in 15 months between
representatives of the Chinese government and of the Dalai Lama:
"Canada has consistently advocated substantive dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives. I urge the two sides to approach this new round of talks with a commitment to serious and meaningful dialogue aimed at resolving outstanding issues in a manner acceptable to both.
The Government of Canada attaches a great deal of importance to the treatment of ethnic Tibetans in China, and to their ability to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association, spiritual belief and peaceful protest."
"For almost 40 years, Canada has maintained a One China policy.
We recognize the Government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the sole legitimate government of China. This remains the core of our China policy. It guides our bilateral relationship with the PRC. It informs our position on Tibet. And it provides a framework that supports peace and security in the Taiwan Strait."
Notes for an address by the Honourable Maxime Bernier, minister of Foreign Affairs, at a meeting of the Asian Heads of Mission, March 12, 2008, Ottawa, Ontario.
"Verbal note to the Chinese Authorities about Danish-Chinese Relations
(...) Denmark is fully aware of the importance and sensitivity of Tibet-related issues and attaches great importance to the view of the Chinese government on these issues. Denmark takes very seriously the Chinese opposition to meetings between members of the Danish Government and the Dalai Lama, and has duly noted Chinese views that such meetings are against the core interest of China, and will handle such issue prudently. In this regard, Denmark reaffirms its One-China Policy and its unchanged position that Tibet is an integral part of China. Denmark recognizes China’s sovereignty over Tibet and accordingly opposes the independence of Tibet."
Approved by the Danish parliament, Folketinget, on 9 December and sent to the Chinese Foreign Ministry and China's Embassy in Copenhagen.
Danish parliamentary decision on China and Tibet
V 64. By Troels Christensen (V), Mogens Lykketoft (S), Per Ørum Jørgensen (KF), Simon Emil Ammitzbøll (RV) and Gitte Seeberg (UFG):
"Folketinget [the Danish parliament, ed.] calls on the government to
– continue the critical dialogue with China on Human Rights, on any concrete occasion, before, during and after the Olympic Games, in accordance with the EU declaration of 29 March 2008,
- continue to express strong concern over the situation in Tibet and urge that the dialogue between representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government are brought through to a result which, in accordance with the one-China-policy, ensures that Tibetans achieve genuine self-rule, with cultural and religious freedom and respect for Human Rights,
- continue to develop contact and dialogue with China on all levels, recognising that the still stronger economic and human contact is the most important positive force for change in Chinese society,
- consequently to fully support the participation of the Danish athletes in the Olympic Games in Beijing."
Approved by the Danish parliament on 22 May 2008 and thereby binding on the Danish government.
The original Danish text:
"V 64. Af Troels Christensen (V), Mogens Lykketoft (S), Per Ørum Jørgensen (KF), Simon Emil Ammitzbøll (RV) og Gitte Seeberg (UFG):
Folketinget opfordrer regeringen til - at videreføre den kritiske dialog med Kina om menneskerettigheder ved enhver konkret lejlighed før, under og efter de Olympiske Lege i overensstemmelse med EU-erklæringen af 29. marts 2008, - fortsat at udtrykke stærk bekymring over situationen i Tibet og indtrængende opfordre til, at dialogen mellem Dalai Lamas repræsentanter og den kinesiske regering føres igennem til et resultat, der i overensstemmelse med et-Kina-politikken sikrer, at tibetanerne opnår reelt selvstyre med kulturel og religiøs frihed og respekt for menneskerettighederne, - fortsat at udvikle kontakt og dialog med Kina på alle planer i erkendelse af, at den stadig stærkere økonomiske og menneskelige kontakt er den vigtigste positive forandringskraft i det kinesiske samfund, - i konsekvens heraf at bakke fuldt ud op om de danske sportsfolks deltagelse i De Olympiske Lege i Beijing."
Declaration by the EU Presidency on the situation in Tibet, 18 March 2008
The EU is deeply concerned about the ongoing reports of unrest in Tibet and conveys its deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims. The EU is urgently seeking further clarification of the situation from the Chinese Government.
The EU calls for restraint on all sides. We urge the Chinese authorities to refrain from using force against those involved in unrest and calls on demonstrators to desist from violence.
The EU stresses the importance it attaches to the right of freedom of expression and peaceful protest. We call on Chinese authorities to respond to the demonstrations in accordance with internationally recognised democratic principles.
The EU firmly supports peaceful reconciliation between Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama and his representatives. The EU urges the Chinese government to address the concerns of Tibetans with regard to issues of human rights.
The EU encourages both sides to enter into a substantive and constructive dialogue with a view to reach a sustainable solution acceptable to all that would fully respect the Tibetan culture, religion and identity.
EU foreign ministers' statement on Tibet, 29 March 2008
"The 27 ministers for foreign affairs of the EU and the (European) Commission discussed the situation in Tibet.
They reiterated their strong concern over the events in the autonomous Chinese region of Tibet. The EU condemns all violence and pays its respect to the victims.
It calls for an end to the violence and asks that arrested persons be treated in conformity with international standards.
It wishes to uphold the transparency of information and hence free access by the press to Tibet.
The EU notes the Dalai Lama's recent public commitment to non-violence and to the autonomy, not independence of Tibet. It calls for substantive and constructive dialogue which addresses core issues like preservation of the Tibetan language, culture, religion and traditions.
The European Union will continue to pay close attention to the human rights situation in China."
"After rounds of consultations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of France have agreed on the following:
The two sides reaffirmed that they attach great importance to China-France relations, and will take the commemoration of the 45th anniversary of China-France diplomatic relations as a good opportunity and work with a strategic and long-term perspective and on the basis of respecting each other and taking into account of each other's fundamental interests to strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership. China and France reiterated their adherence to the principle of non-interference in each other's internal affairs set forth by the Charter of the United Nations and agreed to enhance consultation on issues relating to the fundamental interests of the two sides in the spirit of mutual trust.
France fully recognizes the importance and sensitivity of the Tibet issue and reaffirms its adherence to the one-China policy and the position that Tibet is an integral part of the Chinese territory, in accordance with the decision made by General Charles de Gaulle, which has not changed and will remain unchanged. Based on this spirit and the principle of non-interference in each other's internal affairs, France refuses to support any form of "Tibet independence".
The two sides hold the view that in the context of profound changes in the international political and economic situation, China and France, both as permanent members of the UN Security Council, shoulder major responsibilities in maintaining world peace and promoting development. The two sides stand ready to strengthen dialogue and coordination and jointly respond to global challenges including the international financial crisis.
Acting in this spirit, the two sides decided to conduct high-level contact and strategic dialogue at a proper time to enhance bilateral cooperation in various fields and promote the harmonious and steady growth of China-France relations."
Press Communiqué between China and France
1 April, 2009
"Dialogue between China and Tibet
Merkel underscored her intensive interest in improved relations between China and Tibet. To support this, she offered German assistance based on the One China policy, which recognises the territorial integrity of China."
Note on the website of the German government about a press conference with China's primeminister Wen Jiabao on 29 January 2009 (unofficial translation)
The original German text:
"Dialog zwischen China und Tibet
Merkel betonte ihr intensives Interesse an verbesserten Beziehungen zwischen China und Tibet. Zur Unterstützung bot sie deutsche Hilfe auf der Grundlage der Ein-China-Politik an, die die territoriale Integrität Chinas anerkennt."
"The Government continues to convey its concerns about the situation in Tibet directly to the Chinese authorities in regular contacts with them both in Dublin and Beijing and in the context of regular bilateral discussions on human rights issues. Through these contacts, the Government continues to underline the importance attached by Ireland to the development of a meaningful dialogue between the Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama, so that all issues of concern can be fully addressed. We also strongly support, and engage actively in EU action in relation to Tibet, including in the context of the EU-China Human Rights dialogue, the last meeting of which took place in Beijing on 28 November 2008.
While committed to a One China policy, which accepts Tibet as part of China, the Minister believes that dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives remains the most effective way to achieve the protection of Tibetan culture, identity, religion and human rights, and a greater measure of autonomy for Tibet within China. In this context, the Minister is pleased that Tibetans in exile meeting in Dharmasala in November last endorsed the principles of autonomy over all-out independence and non-violence over physical confrontation, in the pursuit of their agenda for Tibet. This is very much in line with the course that the Dalai Lama has proposed.
However, the current pace and substance of the dialogue between the Dalai Lama and China has been unsatisfactory to date. The Minister has called on the Chinese government to re-engage in an accelerated and upgraded dialogue process with the Dalai Lama and his representatives and has consistently stressed this view in dialogue with the Chinese Government. The Minister is firmly of the view that positive developments in this dialogue will benefit not only the Tibetan people, but also China itself. It will also serve to curb increasing militancy and demands for secession, particularly from among young Tibetans. Such demands diverge from the moderate views of the Dalai Lama, and could be both dangerous and counter-productive, particularly in the course of this emotive fiftieth anniversary year."
Extract from a letter from the Private Secretary, Sinéad Ryan, of the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin T. D., to the director of International Tibet Support Network, Alison Reynolds, on 5 March 2009.
"The basis for the formation of the Polish-Chinese political relations is the principle of "one China", of which Taiwan and Tibet are inseparable parts.
In accordance with the principle of "one China", Poland recognizes the PRC government as the sole representative of China in the international arena and does not maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the island of developing pragmatic cooperation in the spheres of economy, science, education, culture, etc. Poland is considering the so-called issue of Taiwan as an internal affair of Chinese people and is also strongly opposed to any use of force by any party in the Strait and in favor of finding a peaceful solutions to the problem of Taiwan, which will reflect the will of the inhabitants of both mainland China and Taiwan. This is consistent with the EU position.
Like all other countries in the world Poland also recognizes Tibet as an integral part of China. XIV Dalai Lama was and - if he will visit in the future - will be hosted in our country as a religious leader, widely recognized as a moral authority and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate."
Unofficial translation. Original source: Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 12 March 2008, copied on
Extract from parliamentary resolution 2007/08 UU9 on human rights in Swedish foreign policy:
"The committee, which is concerned about the situation in Tibet, welcomes that the primeminister raised the issue of Tibet in talks during his visit to China in April 2008 and that he, like the foreign minister, called for dialogue and stressed that the use of violence must stop. The government has also stressed the importance of respecting human rights, including freedom of association, expression and religion. China has a responsibility for the human rights situation in Tibet.
The Committee states that Sweden does not challenge China's sovereignty over Tibet. Tibet has the status of an autonomous region in China. Regarding the Chinese governance of the Tibet Autonomous Region, it is important to recall that the Tibetan government in exile, under the Dalai Lama, is not working for an independent Tibet. The exile government's aim is instead real autonomy for the region of Tibet.
The Committee appreciates the fact that Sweden in relevant contexts pays attention to the need for genuine Tibetan autonomy. To achieve this, a constructive dialogue between the Chinese and Tibetan representatives is required. It is against this background a welcome fact that a meeting - after heavy international pressure - took place on 5 May between representatives of the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama respectively. Continued dialogue must be encouraged, aimed at a lasting solution to the Tibet issue.
The Committee finds, based on what has been stated, and based on the reporting that has taken place recently, including through several independent organizations, that there is a significant lack of respect for human rights in China and that the situation is particularly serious in areas such as Tibet and Xinjiang, the region where the majority of the Uyghur population reside. Against this background, the Committee would like to stress the importance of seizing the opportunities for influence that exist in the EU and Sweden's human rights dialogues with China and in other appropriate international connections. Sweden must, in bilateral contacts as well as in the EU and in other international relations, act tirelessly to ensure that China's minorities and people in general will enjoy their human rights."
The text was adopted by the Swedish parliament, Riksdagen, on 11 June 2008 and is thereby binding for the Swedish government.
The original Swedish text:
"Betänkande 2007/08:UU9 Mänskliga rättigheter i svensk utrikespolitik":
"Utskottet, som är oroat över situationen i Tibet, välkomnar att statsministern tog upp Tibetfrågan vid överläggningar under sitt besök i Kina i april och att han, i likhet med utrikesministern, manat till dialog och betonat att våldsanvändningen måste upphöra. Regeringen har också betonat vikten av att mänskliga rättigheter respekteras, inklusive mötes-, yttrande- och religionsfrihet. Kina har ett ansvar för situationen avseende mänskliga rättigheter i Tibet.
Utskottet konstaterar att Sverige inte ifrågasätter Kinas överhöghet över Tibet. Tibet har status som en autonom region i Kina. Beträffande det kinesiska styret över den autonoma regionen Tibet är det viktigt att påminna om att den tibetanska exilregeringen, under Dalai lama, inte arbetar för ett självständigt Tibet. Exilregeringens mål är i stället reell autonomi för regionen Tibet.
Utskottet värdesätter att Sverige i relevanta sammanhang uppmärksammar behovet av verklig tibetansk autonomi. För att nå detta krävs en konstruktiv dialog mellan kinesiska och tibetanska representanter. Det är mot denna bakgrund välkommet att ett möte – efter hårda internationella påtryckningar – ägde rum den 5 maj mellan representanter för den kinesiska statsledningen respektive Dalai lama. Fortsatt dialog måste uppmuntras, detta med sikte på en långsiktig lösning på Tibetfrågan.
Utskottet konstaterar, utifrån vad som anförts samt utifrån den rapportering som skett på senare tid, bl.a. via en rad oberoende organisationer, att det råder betydande brister i respekten för mänskliga rättigheter i Kina och att situationen är särskilt allvarlig i områden som Tibet och Xinjiang, den region där uigurerna huvudsakligen bor. Mot denna bakgrund vill utskottet understryka vikten av att ta till vara de möjligheter till påverkan som föreligger i samband med EU:s respektive Sveriges människorättsdialoger med Kina liksom i andra lämpliga sammanhang. Sverige måste i bilaterala kontakter liksom i EU och i andra internationella sammanhang oförtrutet verka för att Kinas minoriteter och befolkning i övrigt kommer i åtnjutande av sina mänskliga rättigheter."
Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Tibet
Tibet is a region of the People's Republic of China with an Autonomy Statute for the Tibetan population. In administrative terms Tibet is a province. As part of a state, it enjoys no sovereignty under international law. Switzerland therefore maintains no direct official contacts with the local Tibetan authorities. In accordance with its humanitarian tradition, Switzerland has accepted a large number of Tibetan refugees since the 1950s. They and their descendants now constitute the second-largest Tibetan community outside Asia. Their strong presence in Switzerland and successful integration into Swiss political life have prompted Switzerland to take a great interest in the situation in those areas of China populated by Tibetans. It focuses particularly on social, economic, cultural, religious and human-rights topics. The subject of Tibet is regularly discussed as part of the human-rights dialogue that Switzerland and China have been conducting since 1991. The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Buddhist Tibetan community, has visited Switzerland on a number of occasions. In order to improve human rights in Tibet and ultimately to help bring about a lasting and peaceful solution of the Tibetan question, dialogue with the Tibetan community is essential.
The website of the Swiss Foreign Ministry
Last modification: 15.04.2008
Written Ministerial Statement on Tibet
30 Oct 2008
Miliband commented on the discussions taking place on Tibet between the Chinese Government and representatives of the Dalai Lama
29 October 2008
David Miliband commented on the discussions taking place on Tibet between the Chinese Government and representatives of the Dalai Lama. In a Written Ministerial Statement he said:
'A new round of talks on Tibet between the Chinese Government and representatives of the Dalai Lama is likely to take place shortly. These talks are hugely important for the future of Tibet. They provide the only forum in which there is any realistic possibility of progress to resolve the differences between the parties involved.
The Chinese Government has said that it is serious about dialogue and that it hopes for a positive outcome. It has set conditions for dialogue which we believe the Dalai Lama has met. The Dalai Lama has made clear that he is not seeking separation or independence. He has said repeatedly that he is seeking a resolution to the situation of Tibet within the framework of the Chinese constitution, a point he made explicitly in an interview with the Financial Times on 24 May during his visit to the United Kingdom. He said: he was "not seeking separation, not seeking independence, but within the framework of the Chinese Constitution, meaningful realistic autonomy [for Tibetans]". He has maintained a clear opposition to violence.
The British Government has a strong interest in the dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama's representatives, although we are not a party to it. No government which is committed to promoting international respect for human rights can remain silent on the issue of Tibet, or disinterested in a solution to its problems.
Britain has been clear under this Government about our commitment to the people of Tibet. We remain deeply concerned about the human rights situation there. My Rt. hon. Friend the Prime Minister set out our concerns to Premier Wen during discussions in the spring and again when they met in Beijing during the Olympic Games. I have made the same point to Foreign Minister Yang on a number of occasions since the unrest in March this year in Tibet. We have consistently made clear that we want to see the human rights of the Tibetan people respected, including through respect for their distinct culture, language, traditions and religions. Our interest is not in restoring an order which existed 60 years ago and which the Dalai Lama himself has said he does not seek to restore.
We are also concerned at more immediate issues arising directly from the unrest of this spring, including the situation of those who remain in detention following the unrest, the increased constraints on religious activity, and the limitations on free access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region by diplomats and journalists. These issues reinforce long-held unease on the part of the Government about the underlying human rights situation in Tibet.
Other countries have made similar points. But our position is unusual for one reason of history that has been imported into the present: the anachronism of our formal position on whether Tibet is part of China, and whether in fact we harbour continued designs to see the break up of China. We do not.
Our ability to get our points across has sometimes been clouded by the position the UK took at the start of the 20th century on the status of Tibet, a position based on the geo-politics of the time. Our recognition of China's "special position" in Tibet developed from the outdated concept of suzerainty. Some have used this to cast doubt on the aims we are pursuing and to claim that we are denying Chinese sovereignty over a large part of its own territory. We have made clear to the Chinese Government, and publicly, that we do not support Tibetan independence. Like every other EU member state, and the United States, we regard Tibet as part of the People's Republic of China. Our interest is in long term stability, which can only be achieved through respect for human rights and greater autonomy for the Tibetans.'
As President Hu indicated, the United States respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. And once again, we have reaffirmed our strong commitment to a one-China policy.
We did note that while we recognize that Tibet is part of the People's Republic of China, the United States supports the early resumption of dialogue between the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve any concerns and differences that the two sides may have. We also applauded the steps that the People's Republic of China and Taiwan have already taken to relax tensions and build ties across the Taiwan Strait.
Extract from a Joint Press Statement by President Obama and President Hu of China
Great Hall, Beijing, China. Released by Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, on 17 November 2009.
"II. Tibet Policy
Encouraging substantive dialogue between Beijing and the Dalai Lama is an important foreign policy objective of the United States. We continue to encourage China and the Dalai Lama to hold direct and substantive discussions aimed at resolution of differences at an early date, without preconditions. The Administration believes that dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives will alleviate tensions in Tibetan areas and contribute to the overall stability of China.
The United States, in accordance with the consensus position within the international community, recognizes the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan autonomous prefectures and counties in other provinces as part of the People's Republic of China. The Dalai Lama has expressly disclaimed any intention to seek sovereignty or independence for Tibet and has stated that he seeks for China to preserve Tibetan culture, religion, and its fragile environment through genuine autonomy.
Because we do not recognize Tibet as an independent state, the Unites States does not conduct official diplomatic relations with the Tibetan "government-in-exile" in Dharamsala, India. We maintain contact with representatives of a wide variety of political and other groups inside and outside of China, including with Tibetans in the United States, China, and around the world. We have also met with the Dalai Lama in his capacity as an important religious leader and Nobel laureate. It is a sign of our country's respect for the Dalai Lama that President Bush, Secretary of State Rice, and other senior officials met the Dalai Lama on several occasions.
We have consistently urged China to respect the unique religious, linguistic, and cultural heritage of its Tibetan people and to fully respect their human rights and civil liberties, as well as the human rights and civil liberties of all citizens of China.
The United States continues to believe that meaningful dialogue represents the best way to resolve tensions in Tibet. We are disappointed that, after seven years of talks, there have not been any concrete results. We are concerned that in 2008, the Chinese government increased its negative rhetoric about the Dalai Lama, increased repression in Tibetan areas, and further restricted religious freedoms. We continue to urge both sides to engage in substantive dialogue and hope to see a ninth dialogue round in the near future that will lead to positive movement on questions related to Tibetans' lives and livelihoods."
Extract from Report on Tibet Negotiations, March 2009, As Required by Section 611, Foreign Relations Authorization Act, 2003, "Tibetan Policy Act of 2002".