- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 24, 2001

Well, well. Times have changed. In years past, Bill Clinton went through all types of contortions to explain away his meetings with the Dalai Lama during his visits to Washington. He made very clear to China that he just "dropped in" on the Tibetan spiritual leaders meetings with his wife or with Al Gore. Not so with this administration. Vice President Dick Cheney met with the Dalai Lama Tuesday and President Bush met with him yesterday quite openly, and without excuse. This occurred on the 50th anniversary of Chinas rule over Tibet.
After all, Mr. Clintons appeasement strategy did nothing to improve Chinas record in those categories. So why shouldnt the Bush administration be open about its support of reformers pursuing positive, democratic change in China?
To cement that intention to support democratic reform in China, the administration named the most senior state department official yet to the post of U.S. special coordinator for Tibetan issues: Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky. This appointment bodes well for Tibet supporters, and for bringing the plight of persecuted Tibetans to the forefront of U.S.-China policy.
As expected, China is furious. Announcing that it considered the meeting with the Dalai Lama an invasion of Chinas internal affairs, it also lodged an official complaint yesterday with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing over the visit of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian, who met with U.S. congressmen in New York Tuesday. China considers Taiwan a rebel province, with no right to diplomatic privileges. It called the Dalai Lama a separatist, an adjective that should fall on the banned leader as a compliment. He has openly said he considered the 1951 treaty to bring Tibet under Chinese control invalid because the Chinese threatened the use of armed force if the Tibetan government didnt comply.
All of Beijings whining did not stop the visits of the two foreign leaders from being successful. In the Dalai Lamas meetings with Mr. Bush, the president stated a strong commitment to preserve Tibets unique religious and cultural heritage. Mr. Chen in turn received U.S. support for Taiwans self-defense, and trade, and for its inclusion in the World Trade Organization.
It is indeed a different day from the day three years ago when Mr. Clinton proudly appeared in Tiananmen Square, received there by Chinese President Jiang Zemin. With this administration, there is no fear and a determination to promote democratic values.


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