Obama: “We Are Not in Favor of Tibet’s Independence”

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US President Barack Obama signed a long-term climate change deal with China that will cap emissions and increase renewable energy in ways that will require a complete overhaul of the Chinese economy, as well as increase US efforts. During the APEC meetings the president also made statements on the Chinese territory of Tibet, which has been protesting for independence from China for decades and has been the subject of extensive and continuous human rights abuses, according to all human rights groups. The president stated that the US was “not in favor of Tibet’s independence.”

In Beijing Wednesday, Obama urged the Chinese authorities to “take steps to preserve the unique cultural, religious and linguistic identity” of the Tibetan people, but said that he recognized Tibet as part of China.

“We are not in favor of Tibet’s independence,” said Obama at a press conference in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

China views the longstanding and broad desire of Tibetans for independence and the return of their outlawed spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, as separatist and criminal. The Dalai Lama is officially a state terrorist in China, and any mention of the leader, possession of images bearing his likeness, or songs related to him are all illegal for Tibetans, many of whom have received lengthy jail terms for refusing to give up their beliefs and affiliations.

In exchanges with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, Wednesday, Obama said that China had evolved a lot in their regard for human rights.

Nine major human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, signed a letter in October urging the president to consider China’s actions and attitude in Tibet as a barrier to bilateral relations during his APEC visit.

The two largest economies–and the two largest polluters–in the world signed what has been called a “landmark” carbon emissions deal at APEC. The US committed to cut emissions 26-28 percent by 2025, representing an acceleration of existing goals by 17 percent.

China, for its part, stated that it “intends” to begin to cut carbon emissions in 2030 and will make “best efforts” to make 2030 the peak year for carbon pollution in China. China will also increase the share of non-fossil fuels energy consumption to around 20 percent by 2030, according to the deal.

By Sid Douglas

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