US House passes Tibet Policy and Support Act
DHARAMSALA, 29 Jan: 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 passed overwhelmingly by the US House of Representatives.
The Tibet Policy and Support Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill labelled “H.R.4331 – To modify and reauthorize the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, and for other purposes” has cleared the lower house of the United States Congress on Tuesday with an overwhelming vote of 392-22.
The President of the Central Tibetan Administration Dr Lobsang Sangay has thanked the House for passing the “important landmark” bill.
“On behalf of six million Tibetans I extend profound gratitude to the Chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and to all the co-sponsors for supporting the Tibetan Policy and Support Act,” President Sangay has said.
The bipartisan bill was introduced in the House by Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.), chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China earlier on 13 Sept 2019 alongside a bipartisan roster of cosponsors.
The legislation was also approved unanimously by the House Foreign Affairs Committee at a markup hearing on Capitol Hill on 18 December 2019.
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.
The bill seeks to build on the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, a landmark legislation that enshrined support for Tibet in US law also include other purposes such as ban on establishing any new Chinese consulates in the US until a US consulate is established in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet while calling on the special coordinator for Tibetan issues in the State Department to build international diplomatic coalitions that will oppose any effort by China to interfere in the Dalai Lama’s succession.
Besides, the new bill also seeks to deepen US diplomatic support for the Tibetan people while calling on protecting Tibet’s environment as it identifies numerous environmental crises occurring in Tibet under Chinese rule. It also calls for the establishment of a US consulate in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.
The legislation now awaits a vote in the Senate where it has been introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ben Cardin (D-MD).
As it stands, the Senate version of the bill is before its Committee on Foreign Relations for its approval.