Tibet Resolve Act Passes US House, Edges Closer To Becoming Law

By Tsering Choephel

DHARAMSALA, 16 Feb: A bipartisan bill promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act, known as the Resolve Tibet Act, cleared the US House of Representatives on Thursday, edging a step closer to becoming law in the US.

The Resolve Tibet Act, a bill labelled H.R. 533 – “to amend the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 to modify certain provisions of that Act,” has cleared the lower house of the United States Congress with an overwhelming vote of 392-28.

The Resolve Tibet Act bill primarily seeks to resolve the Tibet-China conflict by pressuring Beijing to resume negotiations with the Dalai Lama’s envoys or the democratically elected leaders of the Tibetan people, meaning the leaders of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the Tibetan government in exile.

Speaking in support of the Resolve Tibet Act on the House floor on 13 February, Reps Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), one of the key sponsors of the bill, said, “It has been more than 60 years since the People’s Republic of China forced His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama into exile and took control of Tibet against the will of its people. The dispute between the Chinese and Tibetans over Tibet’s status and governance has persisted ever since despite the willingness of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people to resolve Tibet’s status in governance through dialogue. With dialogue blocked, the PRC has continued its unceasing efforts to erode Tibetan history, Tibetan language, Tibetan culture, and Tibetan religion. A few years ago, I was on a delegation with Speaker Pelosi. We went to Tibet and we saw first-hand the PRC’s repression against the people of Tibet essentially trying to erase Tibetans as a people.”

“A vote for this bill is a vote to recognize the rights of the Tibetan people. And it is a vote to insist on resolving the dispute between Tibet and the People’s Republic of China peacefully, in accordance with international law, through dialogue, without preconditions. There is still an opportunity to do this. But time is running out,” he said.

The bill asserts that “The United States Government has never taken the position that Tibet was a part of China since ancient times or that the means by which the Government of the People’s Republic of China came to exert effective control over Tibet was consistent with international law or included the free or meaningful consent of the Tibetan people,” thereby rejecting China’s claim of Tibet as an integral part of it since ancient times.

Furthermore, its definition of Tibet includes the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and the Tibetan areas of the Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan provinces. In other words, the bill recognised the historical three provinces of Kham, Amdo, and U-Tsang as proper Tibet.

Another significant aspect of the bill is that the Office of the US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues will ensure that “US government statements and documents counter disinformation about Tibet by China’s government and the Chinese Communist Party, including disinformation about Tibet’s history and institutions. The bill also authorizes the office to take other actions to counter such disinformation.”

In challenge to China’s forceful claim of Tibet as merely an “internal affair,” the bill also states that “it is U.S. policy that the conflict between Tibet and China is unresolved and that Tibet’s legal status remains to be determined in accordance with international law.”

The President of the CTA expressed gratitude to the US House for passing the Resolve Tibet Act in a post on X (formerly Twitter) emphasising its significance after “65 years of China’s brutal occupation of Tibet,” adding that the Act affirms “Tibet’s rightful historical status, serves as a poignant reminder that the pursuit of justice & truth may be long but it is not without hope.”

The President further thanked Congressman McGovern, Chairman McCaul, and all Representatives for their bipartisan leadership and collective effort in championing the legislation.

Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the CTA to North America Namgyal Choedup has also expressed gratitude to the US Congress, especially to Chairman McCaul and Congressman Jim McGovern for their lead. “Tibetan people, despite seven decades of brutal and paralyzing oppression by the CCP, have never abandoned hope. The H.R.533 passage by the US House will boost the determination of the Tibetan people and their resilience. It also sends a clear message to the current regime under Xi Jinping that if they truly desire social harmony and stability, the only way is to come to the negotiating table in good faith to resolve the Tibet-China dispute,” he added.

The bill now needs to be approved by the US Senate, after which it will then be sent to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.

Votes cast: 392 in favour, 28 against. Source: US House of Representatives.
Partisan lines drawn as the Resolve Tibet Act sailed through with overwhelming support. Despite opposition from a minority, bipartisan unity prevails in championing justice for Tibet. Source: US House of Representatives.

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