By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Sept. 20: Days after the revised version of the Tibet Policy Act 2002 was introduced in the US House of Representatives, China on Thursday urged the United States to stop pushing the legislation on Tibet that rejects Beijing’s claim of authority over the reincarnation of the Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Chinese spokesperson Geng Shuang yesterday remarked that China firmly opposed the move as it severely violates the basic norms governing international relations, grossly interferes in China's internal affairs and sends a seriously wrong signal to the separatist forces of "Tibetan Independence".
Geng added that the Tibetan affairs are purely China's internal affairs and urged the United States to fully recognize the sensitivity of Tibet-related issues and to stop using Tibet-related issues to interfere in China's internal affairs.
The move, however, is welcomed by Tibetans who see the amendments of the 2002 legislation as timely and counter to China’s claim over the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation, aimed to secure legitimacy over Tibet and Tibetans in the years to come.
The aggressive lobbying by the exile Tibetan government to push the bill at Capitol hill last week has been received with positive response from politicians in Washington such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Lindsey Graham, among others.
Exactly a week ago, 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 Senate will also see the introduction of the same amendments of the Tibet Policy Act soon by Senator Marco Rubio, according to sources. To add momentum on the matter, David Stilwell, the assistant secretary of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, testified at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tibet earlier this week.
Stilwell said, “Disturbingly – and ironically – the party continues to assert its role in the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation process, even as President Xi has urged party members to remain ‘unyielding Marxist atheists.’ We believe that Tibetans, like all faith communities, must be able to practice their faith freely and select their leaders without interference. We will continue to assert this belief, and we remain committed to supporting meaningful autonomy for Tibetans.”