TOKYO (AP) — The prime minister of the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile said Monday that he has high expectations for President Donald Trump to support dialogue between the Tibetans and Beijing, as Trump's predecessors have.
Lobsang Sangay told foreign journalists in Tokyo that "it matters" what the United States does and says," and that Tibetans should "remain hopeful" that the U.S. can serve as an intermediary.
Previous U.S. administrations have acknowledged the "one China" policy, but they supported dialogue between the exiled Tibetans and Beijing under the Dalai Lama's "middle way" approach, which calls for seeking regional autonomy under Chinese rule.
During his confirmation as U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson said in a written response to a senator's question that he would continue to encourage dialogue between Beijing and representatives of Tibet's government-in-exile or the Dalai Lama. He also committed to meeting the Dalai Lama.
China doesn't recognize the Tibetan government-in-exile, and it hasn't held any dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans' spiritual leader, since 2010. The Dalai Lama and his followers have been living in exile in Dharamsala, India, since they fled Tibet after a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.
China maintains that Tibet has been part of its territory for more than seven centuries, while many Tibetans say they were effectively an independent country for most of that time.
Lobsang Sangay, in Tokyo for meetings with Japanese officials, also urged Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to share his insights about how to establish good relations with Trump. Abe was due back from the U.S. on Monday evening after holding talks and playing golf with Trump over the weekend.
Abe is the only global leader to have met with Trump twice since he was elected.
Associated Press writer Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.