On Wednesday, the House overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on China to “end its crackdown on Tibet and release Tibetans imprisoned for “nonviolent” demonstrations.” The resolution passed on a vote of 413-1, with “Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who recently dropped out of the presidential race, was the lone congressman voting against it.”
The resolution passed just hours before runners were to carry the Olympic torch on a six-mile route around San Francisco Bay.
San Francisco, California, which is in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 8th District, is the only U.S. stop for the torch relay, which is wrapping up the first week of a 23-city international tour.
Pelosi and other House members introduced the resolution, which urges China to end the crackdown in Tibet and “enter into a substantive dialogue” with the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in northern India.
“It is my hope that the House of Representatives will send a clear message that we support the fundamental freedoms of the Tibetan people and a peaceful solution to the instability in Tibet,” Pelosi said Tuesday on the House floor.
Watch video of the debate on Tuesday night here:
The House resolution,”which has no force of law, also asks the State Department to reconsider its decision to exclude China from its list of countries considered the “world’s most systematic human rights violators,” and calls Chinese officials to allow independent international monitors and journalists access to Tibet.”
Sens. Dianne Feinstein, (D-CA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) introduced and passed a similar resolution in the Senate. The following is from the press release from Senator Feinstein’s office:
The Senate today unanimously approved a bipartisan resolution sponsored by
U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and a group of 20 other Senators condemning the violence in Tibet. The resolution also calls on China to open substantive dialogue with His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet.
The resolution is cosponsored by Senators Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Robert Byrd (D-W.V.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Joseph Lieberman (I-Ct.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), and Russ Feingold (D-Mich.).
On Monday, Hillary Clinton, who was a co-sponsor of the Senate resolution, made the following statement on the Olympics and China:
The violent clashes in Tibet and the failure of the Chinese government to use its full leverage with Sudan to stop the genocide in Darfur are opportunities for Presidential leadership. These events underscore why I believe the Bush administration has been wrong to downplay human rights in its policy towards China. At this time, and in light of recent events, I believe President Bush should not plan on attending the opening ceremonies in Beijing, absent major changes by the Chinese government.
I encourage the Chinese to take advantage of this moment as an opportunity to live up to universal human aspirations of respect for human rights and unity, ideals that the Olympic games have come to represent.
Americans will stand strong in support of freedom of religious and political expression and human rights. Americans will also stand strong and root for the success of American athletes who have worked hard and earned the right to compete in the Olympic Games of 2008.
ABC’s Sunlen Miller noted on Wednesday that “Barack Obama doesn’t seem to want to talk about the Olympics or Senator Clinton’s call for a boycott of the opening ceremonies on August 8, 2008,” and Hillary Clinton called on “Senators McCain and Obama to join” her in her “request that President Bush also not attend the opening ceremonies.”
Obama finally spoke out on China and the Olympics after being called out by Clinton. Reuters reports that Obama fell “short of Clinton position.”