DHARAMSALA, 7 Aug: China continues to systematically impede access to Tibet declared US State Department in its annual report to the US Congress.
“The People’s Republic of China (PRC) government systematically impeded travel to the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan areas outside the TAR for U.S. diplomats and officials, journalists, and tourists in 2019,” the US State Department stated in a report documenting access problems to Tibet.
The report to Congress, mandated by the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act which was signed into law by the US President Donald Trump in December 2018 within 90 days of enactment and annually thereafter for five years added that “the central government required all international visitors to apply for a Tibet travel permit to visit the TAR and regularly denied requests by international journalists, diplomats, and other officials for official travel.”
While the report stated that “approval for tourist travel to the TAR was easier to secure,” it added that oftentimes with heightened restrictions around sensitive dates.
“In 2019, the PRC government denied five of ten official requests from the US diplomatic mission in China to visit the TAR,” the report added,
Last year in its first report, the department said that China has turned down five of the nine US requests to visit Tibet as well.
The report noted that even after acquiring a permit for the Chinese authorities, ”US official visits to the TAR, were highly restricted,” and that the U.S. diplomats and officials were subjected to conspicuous monitoring by the PRC security forces to intimidate them by being followed at all times, prevented from meeting or speaking with local contacts, being harassed, and their movements being restricted.
The report further highlighted the case of Tibetan-Americans regularly facing “restrictions on their travel to Tibetan areas that of the Chinese authorities preventing US journalists from proper reporting “by intimidating and preventing its own citizens from interacting with foreign press.”
On the whole, the report stated that Tibet continues to remain off-limits to foreign journalists.
“Nine out of 10 journalists who requested to report from Tibetan-inhabited areas were told reporting was either restricted or prohibited,” the report said citing Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China’s 2019 annual report.