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US Lawmakers Condemn China's Crackdown in Tibet

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bi-partisan resolution condemning China's crackdown in Tibet and urging Beijing to hold a substantive dialogue with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. The measure passed by a vote of 413 to one. VOA's Dan Robinson reports from Capitol Hill.

Sponsored by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the strongly-worded resolution calls on China to end its crackdown on non-violent Tibetan protesters and goes on to urge Chinese leaders to conduct a "results-based dialogue without preconditions" directly with the Dalai Lama, to address legitimate grievances, aimed at achieving a long-term solution to the Tibetan situation.

The resolution also calls for the immediate release of Tibetans imprisoned for non-violently expressing opposition to Chinese government policies in Tibet, and urges Beijing to allow journalists and independent international monitors free access to Tibet and other regions.

Speaker Pelosi took to the House floor late Tuesday in support of the measure:

"If we and freedom-loving people through the world do not stand up for human rights in China and Tibet, then we lose all moral authority to talk about it any other place in the world," she said.

The Chinese government has condemned Pelosi, accusing her of ignoring violence caused by rioters in Tibet and other areas.

Although she is a vocal supporter of Tibetan protesters, Pelosi has stopped short of supporting a U.S. boycott of the Summer Olympics in Beijing. However, she says the United States, including President Bush, should consider the option of staying away from the opening ceremonies.

In recent weeks, a key House Republican, Frank Wolf, has said he would introduce legislation to block any U.S. government official from attending the Olympics.

"We, as Americans, are both saddened and outraged by the Chinese government's crackdown on peaceful protests in Tibet. This body must be clear in its support of fundamental human rights," said Wisconsin Congressman James Sensenbrenner, the Republican co-author of the resolution.

"Beijing's continued repression and denial of human rights will be come the chief focal point of international attention in the summer of the Beijing Olympics," said Ileana Ros Lehtinen, a Florida Republican.

Although not mentioning the Olympics, the resolution calls on the State Department to issue a public statement reconsidering its decision not to include China on a list of the most systematic human rights violators in its "2007 Reports on Human Rights Practices."

It also urges the State Department to implement a 2002 law called the Tibetan Policy Act, which directed the United States to set up an office in Lhasa, Tibet, to monitor political, economic and cultural developments.

House lawmakers will take a vote on the Tibet resolution, Wednesday. Other legislation on Tibet and human rights in China is pending in Congress.