By Tsering Dhundup
DHARAMSHALA, Aug 23: The United States Department of State, led by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, has announced its decision to enforce visa restrictions on officials of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under the authority of Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This move comes as a response to the alarming reports of the forced assimilation of over one million Tibetan children in government-operated boarding schools by the Chinese authorities in Tibet.
In an official press statement issued on August 22, the US State Department condemned the coercive policies implemented by the Chinese government in Tibet, targeting Tibetan children to erase their unique linguistic, cultural, and religious heritage. These policies have raised significant concerns about the preservation of Tibet’s distinctive identity among the younger Tibetan generations.
The visa restrictions will be imposed on PRC officials who are directly implicated in the forcible assimilation campaign. This decision serves as a strong rebuke against the suppression of Tibetan culture and traditions, as well as a call for accountability from the Chinese government.
The State Department’s announcement also included a plea to the Chinese authorities to put an end to the practice of coercing Tibetan children into government-run boarding schools and to cease the implementation of repressive assimilation policies not only in Tibet but also across other regions of the People’s Republic of China. The US government further expressed its commitment to collaborating with international allies and partners to bring attention to these actions and promote a sense of responsibility.
Lhadon Tethong, the Director of the Tibet Action Institute, praised the US government’s decision, stating, “By announcing its intention to ban Chinese officials involved in the colonial boarding school system in Tibet, the US government is sending them a message that their crimes are known and they will now be treated as pariahs in the free world.” Tethong went on to urge other nations to follow suit and hold those responsible for these actions accountable.
China’s foreign ministry responded promptly, asserting that the “wrong decision” made by the United States to impose visa restrictions on Chinese officials over the issue of “forcible assimilation” of Tibetan children at boarding schools should be revoked without delay. “Otherwise, China will make a resolute and forceful response.” stated spokesperson Wang Wenbin in a news conference.