By Kanishka Singh
(Reuters) – The United States on Monday named Under Secretary of State Uzra Zeya as special coordinator for Tibetan issues, saying she would lead U.S. efforts to preserve the Chinese-ruled territory’s religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage in the face of human rights abuses by Beijing.
China has consistently refused to deal with a U.S. coordinator on Tibet, seeing it as interference in its internal affairs.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Zeya, who is responsible for democracy and human rights at the State Department, would also seek to promote dialogue between China and Tibet’s spiritual leader in exile, the Dalai Lama, or democratically elected Tibetan leaders.
“She will lead U.S. efforts to preserve the religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage of Tibetans who are facing human rights abuses and challenges to their livelihoods and environment,” Blinken said in a tweet.
China reacted angrily last year and accused the United States of seeking to destabilize Tibet after the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump appointed Zeya’s predecessor to the same role.
U.S.-China relations have been at their lowest point in decades over a range of issues, including trade, Taiwan, human rights, the South China Sea and the coronavirus.
China seized control of Tibet after its troops entered the region in 1950 in what it calls a “peaceful liberation.” Tibet has since become one of the most restricted areas in the country. Critics, led by the Dalai Lama, say Beijing’s rule amounts to “cultural genocide”.
Zeya will continue to serve as U.S. Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, Blinken said in a statement.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Howard Goller)