DHARAMSALA, Mar 3: A bipartisan bill that calls for denial of access to the United Stated by Chinese official responsible for policies on travel to Tibetan areas was re-introduced in the US Congress, reported the Washington-based International campaign for Tibet.
The bill, H.R. 1112, the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act 2015, was introduced by Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Joseph Pitts (R-PA) on February 26, 2015.
The legislation, if adopted would deny access to the United States by Chinese officials who are responsible for creating or administering policies on travel to Tibetan areas until China eliminates its existing discriminatory restrictions on access by Americans to Tibet.
“Restricted access to Tibet leaves Tibetans in virtual isolation from the world community, limiting international exchange and the ability to objectively assess the human rights situation there,” Congressman McGovern had said in a press release after introducing a similar legislation last year.
“Our goal is an open and accessible Tibet, where Americans can visit and learn from the wonders of the Tibetan Plateau – its natural beauty, its people, and its rich culture and religious heritage,” he had added then.
Apparently no Member of Congress has been permitted by China to visit Tibet since the 1990s. Though a few visits by Congressional staff have occurred since 2008, those visits were tightly controlled by government minders.
However, delegations of officials from the Tibetan Autonomous Region, including the chairman, visited the U.S. Congress last year and others have visited on several occasions in recent years.
“The Bill conveys a clear message to the Chinese leadership that if they don’t allow American citizens into Tibet, then Chinese officials with oversight on Tibet should not be allowed into the United States,” the report cited Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet as saying.
“For decades, restricted access to Tibet for independent observers, journalists and diplomats has raised serious concerns as it has allowed the Chinese government to oppress Tibetans without accountability,” Mecacci added.
In addition to Reps. McGovern and Pitts, the bill’s original cosponsors are: Keith Ellison (D-MN), Tom Marino (R-PA), Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Niki Tsongas (D-MA).