By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 6: A bill that promotes access for United States’ politicians and members of the civil society has received the support of one of the country’s key organs that represents the country in international affairs and foreign policy issues.
A US State Department official said that they support the goals of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act and will take steps to implement the bill if it becomes law, during a hearing titled “The China Challenge, Part 3: Democracy, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law” on Tuesday in Washington DC.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) who presided over the hearing on Dec. 4 said that a very few Americans including diplomats, journalists and common citizens had access to Tibet over the years due to Beijing’s iron clad rule.
Laura Stone, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the State Department, said, “I do want to state very clearly that I do understand the Senate is considering the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act. We do want to continue to work very closely with Congress and with your staff with the goal of seeing that Americans do have access to Tibet.”
The United States bill that seeks to counter China’s discriminatory practice of restricting access to Tibet received unanimous bipartisan backing of the United States House of Representatives back in September and was approved by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week.
During the same hearing Sen. Gardner also said that the US Congress would reject China’s appointment of the next Dalai Lama. He said, “I think it’s clear that this Congress would not recognize a Chinese imposition (of a new Dalai Lama)”.
The United States Senate passed a resolution in April that supported the right of the Tibetan Buddhists to hold authority over the reincarnation process of spiritual leaders, as opposed to the heavy-handedness of the communist Beijing government.
The unanimously passed resolution 429, “affirmed its support for the Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights and freedoms, including their right to self-determination and the protection of their distinct identity. The Senate expressed its sense that prominent among these rights is that the identification and installation of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders as a matter that should be determined solely within the Tibetan Buddhist faith community, in accordance with the inalienable right to religious freedom.”