By Tenzin Dharpo
US House of Representatives. for illustrative purposes only
DHARAMSHALA, Sept. 17: The revised version of the Tibet Policy Act 2002 which was introduced in the US House of Representatives on Friday proposes sanction on Chinese officials who interferes and impedes the reincarnation of the Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, among others.
The new amendments of the bill if passed will signal a tougher stance on China with regards to Tibet, the religious freedom of the Tibetan people, its environmental protection and levelling of the field when it comes to diplomatic quid pro quo, thereby aligning Tibet with the US national interest while dealing with Beijing.
Washington based International Campaign for Tibet said that under the new bill, any Chinese official deemed complicit in identifying or installing a future Dalai Lama will face sanctions that could include having their assets frozen and their entry to the US denied.
ICT’s President Matteo Mecacci said, “For many years, the Chinese Communist Party’s long-term strategy has been to control the eventual reincarnation of the Dalai Lama in order to try to legitimize its rule in Tibet and to gain soft power over Buddhist practitioners worldwide. This new bill recognizes that the Dalai Lama’s succession is essential to the Tibetan people, represents a key test for the respect of religious freedom worldwide and is therefore vital to US national interests.”
Also, highlighting the need for an American diplomatic presence in Tibet, the bill mandates that the Secretary of State will “not authorize the establishment in the United States of any additional consulate of the People’s Republic of China until such time as a United States consulate in Lhasa, Tibet, is established.”
Recognising Tibet as a key source of water for surrounding countries in Asia, impacting the lives of more than 1 billion people and Tibet’s connection to global climate stability, the bill requires the Secretary of State to encourage a regional framework on water security and to pursue collaboration with China and international institutions to monitor the environment on the Tibetan plateau.
“The swift approval of the bill by the US Congress will show the Chinese government that the US considers Tibet part of its national security interest and that only a political solution that would grant Tibetans genuine autonomy could resolve this decades-long conflict,” ICT chief said.
The bill “H.R.4331 – To modify and reauthorize the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, and for other purposes” was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and to the Committee on the Judiciary for revision and debate on a later date. The same bill will be introduced in the Senate this week by the commission’s Co-Chair Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla).