By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Sep. 26: The bill that promotes access to Tibet for U.S. officials, journalists and average citizens was approved by the United States House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass) who introduced the bill in the house alongside Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) said, “Today is a great day for human rights. The United States must continue to stand squarely for human rights and speak openly against China’s human rights violations in Tibet.”
The bill H.R. 4851, called the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, was was approved by the United States House Judiciary Committee with unanimous bipartisan backing earlier in July. In the face of China’s extreme travel ban to occupied Tibet, the bill would ban access into US for Chinese officials responsible for discriminating against Americans who try to enter Tibet.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said, “I have been increasingly worried about the impact of China’s intimidation tactics on US policy toward Tibet but with this bill, we are sending a clear message that we will not let Beijing’s immoral, unjust and destabilizing treatment of the Tibetan people go unaddressed. The United States must make Tibet a priority in our relations with Beijing, and I am very pleased we are moving in that direction with this important bill.”
The Bill that was introduced in June 2014, was lobbied by various pro-Tibet groups and individuals, and organisations including International Campaign for Tibet through the years.
ICT President Matteo Mecacci said, “The approval of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act by the House is an indication of Congress’ continuing concerns about China’s treatment of the Tibetan people. It is a strong statement by the United States that puts pressure on the Chinese government to open up Tibet to the outside world and shows that their propaganda is hollow.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is a co-sponsor of the Senate version of the bill (S.821), tweeted: “Glad to see the House taking up the Reciprocal Access to #Tibet bill this week. I introduced the Senate companion and am hopeful we can get this to @POTUS’s desk before the end of the year.” The bill now has to be signed by the President of the United States to be deemed a constitutional law.