US Congress passes Tibetan Policy and Support Act 2020

United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., the meeting place of the US Congress. Image: Corbis

DHARAMSALA, 22 Dec: Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020, a bill entailing sanctions against Chinese officials interfering with the selection of the 15th Dalai Lama and to deepen US’ support for Tibet among others has been unanimously passed by the United States Congress.

The President of the Central Tibetan Administration(CTA) Dr Lobsang Sangay has described the bill as “a momentous landmark for the Tibetan people.”

“By passing the TPSA, Congress has sent its message loud and clear that Tibet remains a priority for the United States and that it will continue its steadfast support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the CTA,” President Sangay said, reports, the official webpage of the CTA.

The political head of the Tibetan people, Dr Sangay who has been in the US since Nov with “the sole purpose to push the bill,” tweeted from D.C. that “finally good to see efforts bearing  fruit.”

President Sangay also thanked the bill’s key sponsors, co-sponsors and everyone who supported it, especially Senators Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin; and Congressmen Jim McGovern and Chris Smith for their “extraordinary leadership” in introducing the bill in the House and Senate.

“I would like to especially thank House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for their steadfast support in making this historic bill come true. I also thank Senators James E. Risch and Robert Menendez, the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and Representatives Eliot L. Engel and Michael McCaul, the Chair and Co-Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, respectively,” he said in the report.

He further acknowledged Bethany Poulos, Brian Burack, Charlotte Oldham-Moore, Jennifer Hendrixson-White, Jonathan Stivers, Lara Crouch, Chris Socha, Michael Schiffer, Reva Price and, Wendy all the staffers who provided significant help and support in this process.

Apart from the CTA, North American Tibetan associations, Tibet supporters and many Tibetan activist groups have tirelessly lobbied for the passage of the bill.

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 TPSA builds on the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, a landmark legislation that enshrined support for Tibet in US law also includes other purposes such as a 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 20 pages long 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 and it requires the secretary of state to pursue in collaborative efforts with Chinese and international scientific institutions, as appropriate, to monitor the environment on the Tibetan Plateau and to encourage a regional framework on water security among others.

Additionally, TPSA also commended the Tibetan exile communities around the world for the adoption of a system of self-governance with democratic institutions to choose their leaders, the Dalai Lama for his decision to devolve political authority to elected leaders in accordance with democratic principles and declared that the Central Tibetan Administration represents and reflects the aspirations of Tibetan people around the world.

It also recognised the Sikyong as the President of the Central Tibetan Administration and called for the United States Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues to continue to maintain close contact with the religious, cultural, and political leaders of the Tibetan people.

TPSA,  the bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ben Cardin (D-MD)  is now expected to be signed into law by President Trump.

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