Friday, March 23, 2007

Coverage of Chinese Officials' visit to Madison

Wisconsin Public Radio (March 22, 2007): Listen

Earlier this month, the Wisconsin legislature unanimously passed a resolution that declared March 10th as “Tibet Day”. The Chinese government has not taken the matter lightly, as Brian Bull reports:

State Representative Joe Parisi of Madison was the lead sponsor of Assembly Joint Resolution 22, which he drafted to honor the more than one million Tibetans who’ve died in their fight for independence from China. Human rights groups have accused the Chinese government of destroying Buddhist monasteries and brutalizing Tibetans, since Communist forces invaded and occupied Tibet. The country’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has lived in exile since 1959.

Parisi says on March 13th, two officials from the Chinese Consulate in Chicago dropped by his office, to criticize his resolution.

Parisi Speaking: “We had a frank exchange. We disagreed on a number of issues regarding Tibet. I let them know my concerns, they gave me their side of the story, and at the end of the conversation I just reiterated my main goal -- and that is to urge the Chinese government to engage in direct talks with the Dalai Lama.”

Calls to the Chinese Consulate officials were not returned in time for this story, but the Chinese government insists that Tibetans are happy.

Parisi says he’s never heard of the Chinese Consulate sending officials out to challenge previous resolutions or pro-Tibetan events before. He says China is likely more sensitive about its image as the 2008 Olympics in Beijing draw closer.

The Capital Times (March 24, 2007):


China muscles Parisi
By David Caleader and Judith Davidoff
The Capital Times
March 24, 2007

State lawmakers pass all manner of symbolic resolutions during the legislative session – calling on Congress to act or not act on certain issues, praising fallen soldiers and former public figures, congratulating sports teams on victories, and commemorating various historical events.

But a resolution passed earlier this month commemorating the 1959 Tibetan uprising against China prompted an unscheduled visit by authorities from the Chinese consulate in Chicago to the measure’s sponsor, Rep. Joe Parisi, D-Madison.

Parisi said the two officials, who identified themselves as part of the consulate’s education and communications offices, “expressed their disappointment that I had authored the resolution.”

He said they sought to change his views on the ongoing occupation of Tibet by China.

Parisi said the session was different from a routine lobbying visit.

“It was much more firm than that,” he said. “They were here to tell me that I was wrong, that I had been misled by the Tibetans in this community, and that I needed to be set straight.”

China has consistently taken the position that Tibet was part of China and that the 1959 uprising was fueled by Western forces, including the CIA.

Many Tibetans, however, contend that the occupation is illegal and that the exiled Dalai Lama is the nation’s legitimate ruler.

Parisi said he urged the Chinese officials to open negotiations with the Dalai Lama and pressed for information about the recent murder of a teenage Buddhist nun who was reportedly shot by Chinese troops while trying to flee Tibet.

Parisi said the Chinese officials told him they were unfamiliar with the incident involving the nun and claimed that past efforts to meet with the Dalai Lama were unproductive.

Voice of America (in Tibetan) March 21, 2007: Listen

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