The National Endowment for Democracy, the Olympics, and Tibet

Recent English and Chinese-language articles published online by PRC government-controlled news services regarding Olympics-related activities and recent protests in Tibetan areas contain inaccurate and misleading statements about the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Unsubstantiated assertions have appeared in Xinhua News , Globe, and China Youth Daily stories and have been copied nearly verbatim by William Engdahl, the Straits Times, and the Hong Kong Economic Journal .

The National Endowment for Democracy neither organized nor funded the March demonstrations inside Tibet, which appear to have occurred spontaneously. As some NED grantees point out, suppressive governmental policies in Tibet and long-standing citizen grievances provide more relevant explanations for the protests.

In relation to the Olympics, as expected and as they have the right to do, numerous human rights and other groups around the world have used the media attention of the Games and the torch relay to highlight their concerns that the Chinese government has fallen short of its Olympic promises. The actions of such groups were largely orderly, peaceful demonstrations of opinion. Regrettably, there were a few exceptions; NED did not support these activities.

Leading up to the Olympics, NED has funded a number of projects designed to bring attention to human rights and every one of these projects adheres to the same high standards of accurate reporting and principled, peaceful advocacy that NED grantees have always upheld. NED-supported work has included a wide variety of efforts by groups to document and highlight China’s poor human rights record through careful monitoring, research, and substantiated reporting, through outreach to the United Nations as well as to Chinese and international media and opinion leaders, and through peaceful advocacy for the fundamental human rights of all citizens, whether of Tibetan, Han or other ethnic background.

For over 15 years, NED has provided modest grants to support Tibetan human-rights and prodemocracy nongovernmental organizations based in exile, for humanitarian assistance and projects designed to promote freedom of expression and the free flow of information, to promote democratic values via intellectual forums and community participation, and to conduct democratic civic education in Tibetan communities outside of China.