Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, before a meeting in Beijing on Thursday. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, visited Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, this week and met with the Communist Party chief of the region, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman and a report published on Thursday by the official Tibet Daily.
Ms. Pelosi, who represents California, and her colleagues are on an official trip to China, and Chinese leaders have allowed her the rare opportunity to make a tightly controlled visit to the Tibet Autonomous Region, which is usually off limits to foreign officials and journalists. The administrative region includes Lhasa and the central Tibetan plateau, as well as areas bordering Nepal.
On Thursday afternoon, Hong Lei, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, confirmed at a regularly scheduled news conference that Ms. Pelosi and her delegation had gone to Tibet before traveling to Beijing. He did not give details of the Tibet trip but said the delegation had been invited to China by the standing committee of the National People’s Congress.
Ms. Pelosi has met on multiple occasions with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan monk condemned by China as a separatist, including in Dharamsala, India, where he lives. She has spoken out strongly against the Chinese government over the Tibet issue.
Tibet Daily said that Chen Quanguo, the party chief, told Ms. Pelosi in a meeting on Tuesday that the United States should not support any separatist activities and should bar the Dalai Lama from visiting the United States.
The article also said that Ms. Pelosi had “highly praised” the “progress” in Tibet as well as the Chinese government’s efforts in “guaranteeing religious freedom, protecting ethnic culture and protecting the ecology and environment.”
As printed in Tibet Daily, Ms. Pelosi’s remarks are a sharp contrast to many of her earlier, critical statements on the situation in Tibet. Ms. Pelosi was attending official meetings in Beijing on Thursday and could not be reached for immediate comment.