By Tenzin Sangmo
Bhuchung K. Tsering testifying at the hearing. PC- ICT
DHARAMSHALA, April 10: The vice president of International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), Bhuching K. Tsering, testified yesterday before the Senate Foreign Relations Asia Subcommittee on Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA) in Action, Part 1: Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law.
The act that aims at countering the encroaching influence and growing threat from China and to reinvigorate US leadership in Asia was signed into law on December 1, 2018.
The hearing yesterday was presided over by the Subcommittee’s Chairman US Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) who strongly rejected the Chinese government’s claim that it will decide the reincarnation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet.
Saying that Congress will never recognize China’s choice of the next Dalai Lama, he asserted, “Let me be very clear: The United States Congress will never recognize a Dalai Lama that is selected by the Chinese.”
Gardner had previously said that Congress would reject China’s choice of a Dalai Lama during a hearing in December 2018 at which Laura Stone, a senior official in the State Department, said the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation is “the kind of issue that we are watching very closely and at very senior levels.”
During yesterday’s hearing, Gardner said the US will follow the Dalai Lama’s 2011 statement about his succession, which was introduced into the record at the hearing by Tsering.
Tsering quoted His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s statement from 2011, “It is particularly inappropriate for Chinese communists, who explicitly reject even the idea of past and future lives, let alone the concept of reincarnate Tulkus, to meddle in the system of reincarnation and especially the reincarnations of Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas. Such brazen meddling contradicts their own political ideology and reveals their double standards. Should this situation continue in the future; it will be impossible for Tibetans and those who follow the Tibetan Buddhist tradition to acknowledge or accept it.”
“If not challenged vigorously by free countries,” Tsering said, “China’s meddling would affect the religious freedom, not only of Tibetans but also of millions of followers of Tibetan Buddhism worldwide.”
Addressing the severe restrictions of international journalists’ in Tibet, he said, “If the situation of the Tibetan people is as good as they claim, China should have nothing to fear in providing access to Tibet to independent observers, journalists and diplomats.”
One of the recommendations made was that “the US should support the findings of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China position paper on Tibet and ask China to do away with the restrictions on journalists’ access to Tibet.”
He also recommended that the Tibetan Policy Act 2002 be updated and strengthened as there have been several developments since its enactment in 2002. “Therefore, Congress should explore amending the TPA to reflect these developments, including clarifying U.S. policy on the issue of reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.”
Tsering recommended that the US should pursue its long-stated goal of establishing a consulate in Lhasa and that Secretary Pompeo should be asked to appoint the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues at the earliest.
Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) also spoke in support of the Tibetan people at the hearing.
“The persecution of the Tibetan people is one of the longest-running challenges to the international community’s human rights record,” said Markey.