• World
  • diplomacy

Nancy Pelosi, After Meeting Dalai Lama, Says China Is ‘Trying to Erase’ Tibetan Culture

2 minute read

Former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused China of trying to erase Tibetan culture following her high-profile meeting with the Dalai Lama at his home in northern India Wednesday, a visit condemned by Beijing.

Pelosi was joined on the trip to Dharamshala by a bipartisan delegation led by Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The group also met with officials from Tibet’s government in exile. 

Pelosi said a bill recently passed in Congress strengthening U.S. support to Tibet sends a strong message to China.

China is “trying to erase the culture, reduce the use of the language,” Pelosi said during a public ceremony Wednesday in Dharamshala. “They are trying something that we cannot let them get away with.”

Read More: China’s Residential Schools Separate a Million Tibetan Children From Their Families, U.N. Says

“This bill is a message to the Chinese government that we have clarity in our thinking and understanding of this issue of the freedom of Tibet,” Pelosi said.

Beijing had warned the U.S. lawmakers against the meeting, urging the U.S. in remarks on Tuesday to “see clearly the anti-China separatism nature” of the Dalai Lama and his followers.

China considers the Dalai Lama a separatist for his commitment to limited autonomy for the region. Pelosi has been a longtime critic of Chinese policy on Tibet, and visited the Tibetan city of Lhasa in 2015.

Read More: The Dalai Lama on the Gratitude He Feels Looking Back at His Escape From Tibet

China annexed Tibet in the 1950s, with the Dalai Lama and other monks fleeing to India nine years later, where they live as refugees and have set up a government in exile in Dharamshala. 

Officials from the Tibetan government-in-exile earlier said the U.S. visit and legislation will put pressure on China to engage with them as they seek autonomy for the region.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com