DHARAMSALA, 20 Dec: A bill entailing sanctions against Chinese officials interfering with the selection of a new Dalai Lama and to deepen US’ support for Tibet among others has been approved by the US House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The bipartisan Tibet Policy and Support Act of 2019 was reported to have been approved unanimously by the House Foreign Affairs Committee at a markup hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
The legislation was co-sponsored by the House Foreign Affairs’s chairman, Rep. Eliot Engel.
The committee chairman while speaking on the bill has said, “It is an unthinkable violation of the basic principles of religious freedom that the Chinese government would choose the religious leader for the Tibetan people, rather than allowing the Tibetan people to make this decision through their ancient and sacred traditions.”
Tibet Policy and Support Act of 2019 will send a clear message to the Chinese authorities Rep. Engel added.
“If Chinese officials infringe on the religious freedoms of the Tibetan people in this manner we will hold them accountable.”
The bill—labelled “H.R.4331 – To modify and reauthorize the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, and for other purposes” is now a step closer to becoming law. It will now go to the House for a full vote, although a date has not been set.
While Beijing insists that the next Dalai Lama should be chosen in accordance with religious rules and customs endorsed by Communist regime, the legislation declares that the official US policy on the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan Buddhist leaders are exclusively religious issues that the Tibetan Buddhist community should decide on and under the bill, any Chinese officials who attempt to interfere in this process could face sanctions that could include having their assets frozen and their entry to the US denied.
Meanwhile, The Central Tibetan Administration has thanked the committee for their support but China, as expected, has condemned the bill and called on the US to stop exploiting the Tibet question as a tool to interfere in the country’s internal affairs.
“China urges the US side to fully understand the high sensitivity of the Tibet question, keep its promise over the matter, stop exploiting it as a tool to interfere in China’s internal affairs, and suspend pushing forward related bills,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang has said at a regular press conference on Thursday.