By Tenzin Dharpo
Congressman Jim McGovern. file photo
DHARAMSHALA, Sept. 16: A bill to modify the existing ‘Tibet Policy Act’ of 2002 has been introduced in the United States House of Representatives in Washington DC on Friday. The bill seeks to revitalise the first significant bill on Tibet passed by the US.
The bill was sponsored by Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) who chairs the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), an independent agency of the U.S. government which monitors human rights and rule of law developments in China. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and to the Committee on the Judiciary for revision and debate on a later date.
The Congressman from Massachusetts had also introduced the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act (H.R. 1872), which was passed into law last year.
The revised bill is being lobbied aggressively by the exile Tibetan government, known officially as the Central Tibetan Administration and pro-Tibet group International Campaign for Tibet. It includes new provisions, including on reincarnation (of and including H.H the Dalai Lama), CTA, democracy and other issues concerning the Tibetan people.
It has been co-sponsored by Representatives Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Thomas Suozzi(D-NY), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) and Ben McAdams (D-UT) on September 13.
The President of CTA, Dr. Lobsang Sangay visited Capitol hill last week in a bid to what “to drum up support” for the bill. During the effort to garner support, the head of the Tibetan polity met with numerous US members of the Congress and the senate. Prominent figures in Washington pledged their support including Speaker Nancy Pelosi who said she would help make the new bill a priority in the Congress.
The United States has passed two significant legislations on Tibet till date. The Tibet Policy Act of 2002, which among other matters requires the appointment of a Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, whose “central objective is to promote substantive dialogue between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives”, and the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018 which calls for the American government to limit access for Chinese authorities who bar U.S. diplomats, journalists, and tourists to Tibet.