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World

US Congress Passes Landmark Bill in Support of Tibet

  • On Monday, the United States Congress passed a bill that is expected to significantly upgrade American support for Tibetans, including sanctioning Chinese officials if they try to appoint the next Dalai Lama.
  • The Tibetan Policy and Support Act (TPSA) was passed by the House and Senate as an amendment to the $1.4 trillion government-spending bill and the $900 billion coronavirus relief package.
24 Dec 2020

On Monday, the United States Congress passed a bill that is expected to significantly upgrade American support for Tibetans, including sanctioning Chinese officials if they try to appoint the next Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan Policy and Support Act (TPSA) was passed by the House and Senate as an amendment to the $1.4 trillion government-spending bill and the $900 billion coronavirus relief package.

This bill is expected to pave the way for the U.S. government to issue economic and visa sanctions against any Chinese officials who interfere with the succession of the Dalai Lama, and will require Beijing to allow Washington to establish a consulate in Lhasa - the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region - before Beijing can open any additional consulates in the United States.

The bipartisan bill, backed by both Democrats and Republicans, is expected to be signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Lobsang Sangay, President of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the Tibetan government in exile, called the bill “a momentous landmark for the Tibetan people", adding that “Any interference by Chinese government officials will be met with serious sanctions and be deemed inadmissible into the United States".

Furthermore, Sangay mentioned that "By passing the TPSA, Congress has sent its message loud and clear that Tibet remains a priority for the United States and that it will continue its steadfast support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the CTA".

According to the International Campaign for Tibet, a human rights group in the autonomous region, “By passing the TPSA, Congress has not only upgraded its overall support for Tibet, but specifically laid a marker down on the global stage declaring that the international community will not accept China’s interference in the Dalai Lama’s succession and will oppose China’s human rights abuses in Tibet for as long as they continue".

On Tuesday, Wang Wenbin, Spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, stated that China strongly opposed the bill, claiming that issues involving Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong “concern China's sovereignty and territorial integrity,” and urged the United States to “stop meddling in Beijing’s internal affairs".

The legislation also addresses the controversy around the succession of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who is also a global Buddhist authority. The Dalai Lama is expected to reincarnate after he dies, and there is widespread belief that the Chinese government will interfere in the process and appoint its own Dalai Lama for political legitimacy and authority in the region.

China regards the exiled leader as a separatist.