President Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Bryd, my fellow Laureate Elie Wiesel, Honorable Members of Congress, Brothers and Sisters.
It is a great honor for me to receive the Congressional Gold Medal. This recognition will bring tremendous joy and encouragement to the Tibetan people, for whom I have a special responsibility. Their welfare is my constant motivation and I always consider myself as their free spokesperson. I believe that this award also sends a powerful message to those many individuals who are dedicated to promoting peace, understanding and harmony.
On a personal note, I am deeply touched that this great honor has been given to me, a Buddhist monk born of a simple family from the remote Amdo region of Tibet. As a child I grew up under the loving care of my mother, a truly compassionate woman. And after my arrival in Lhasa at the age of four, all the people around me, my teachers and even the housekeepers, taught me what it means to be kind, honest, and caring. It is in such an environment that I grew up. Later my formal education in Buddhist thought exposed me to concepts such as interdependence and the human potential for infinite compassion. It is these that gave me a profound recognition of the importance of universal responsibility, nonviolence, and inter-religious understanding. Today, it is a conviction in these values that gives me the powerful motivation to promote basic human values. Even in my own struggle for the rights and greater freedom of the Tibetan people, these values continue to guide my commitment to pursuing a nonviolent path.
I have had the honor to be in this hall once before when I visited your country in 1991. Many of the faces that welcomed me then, I can see today, which gives me great joy. Many have retired and some are sadly no longer with us. However, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize their kindness and contribution. Our American friends have stood with us in the most critical of times and undermost the intense pressure.
Mr. President, thank you for your strong support, and for the warm friendship that Mrs. Bush and you have extended to me personally. I am deeply grateful to you for your sympathy and support for Tibet, and your firm stand on religious freedom and the cause of democracy.
Madam Speaker, you have not only extended an unwavering support to me and the just cause of the Tibetan people, you have also worked hard to promote the cause of democracy, freedom and the respect for human rights in other parts of the world. For this, I would like to offer my special thanks.
The consistency of American support for Tibet has not gone unnoticed in China. Where this has caused some tension in the US-China relations, I feel a sense of regret. Today, I wish to share with you all my sincere hope that the future of Tibet and China will move beyond mistrust to a relationship based on mutual respect, trust and recognition of common interests.
Today we watch China as it rapidly moves forward. Economic liberalization has led to wealth, modernization and great power. I believe that today's economic success of both India and China, the two most populated nations with long history of rich culture, is most deserving. With their new found status, both of these two countries are poised to play an important leading role on the world stage. I n order to fulfill this role, I believe it is vital for China to have transparency, rule of law and freedom of information. Much of the world is waiting to see how China's concepts of