Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - US ambassador to China Gary Locke urged Beijing "to re-examine some of the policies" towards Tibetans. He also acknowledged that he had quietly visited monasteries where some people carried out self-immolation protests to demand an end to the repressive policies of China's Communist government and the return home of the Dalai Lama.
Speaking from Beijing to an online forum in the United States, Locke said he visited the monasteries of Songpan and Kirti last month in Aba Prefecture (Sichuan province) to "get an appreciation of Tibetan culture and the way of life".
Aba has been a hotbed of protests against Beijing's rule. Some 55 ethnic Tibetans have set themselves on fire in the area to protest against its policies.
"We implore the Chinese," the ambassador said, "to really meet with the representatives of the Tibetan people to address and re-examine some of the policies that have led to some of the restrictions and the violence and the self-immolations," Locke said.
"Nobody wants that type of action, or of people having to resort to that type of action. Too many deaths," he added.
The Chinese government has not responded. For Beijing, Tibet is a domestic matter (like Taiwan, the Tiananmen Square massacre or religious freedom in the country) and whenever foreigners take it to task, it reacts with vehemence.
What is more, China has blamed the spate of self-immolations on the Dalai Lama even though the Buddhist religious leader has repeatedly called on his faithful to preserve their own life and that of others.