By Tenzin Nyidon
DHARAMSHALA, Nov 30: The House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) in a historic hearing on Nov. 29 unanimously approved the bipartisan ‘Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act,’ also known as the Resolve Tibet Act. The bill is an amended House version of the legislation initially introduced last year by long-time Tibet supporter Reps. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Michael McCaul, R-Texas, alongside Senators Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Todd Young, R-Ind.
The bill recognises Tibet’s unresolved political status and holds China suspect of violating Tibetan people’s legitimate right to self-determination. The bill aims to counter the narrative propagated by the Chinese government, which asserts that Tibet has been an integral part of China since ancient times. Additionally, the HFAC-approved bill also makes clear that Tibet’s land mass does not only include the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) but also the significant Tibetan-inhabited areas in Gansu, Sichuan, Qinghai, and Yunnan provinces
“We thank HFAC Chair Michael McCaul, ranking member Gregory Meeks, and all the members of the committee for approving the Tibet bill, which builds on the incredible bipartisan support that the United States has always shown for our just cause,” President of the Tibetan government-in-exiled Penpa Tsering said after the approval of the bill, thanking all the concerned US officials for their support.
“This bill will allow the United States to address its consistent calls for dialogue with more force and urgency while giving voice to Tibetans in their own country. This will not only help the cause of Tibetans, but also champion democracy, dialogue, and the cause of peace around the globe. Therefore, we are confident that this bill will advance through both houses of Congress and onto the President’s desk,” Sikyong further stated.
Furthermore, the bill faults China for its refusal to engage in discussions with the Dalai Lama or his representatives. The bill also seeks to empower the position of US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, currently held by Under Secretary Uzra Zeya to counter CCP’s propaganda and address Tibet-related concerns effectively.
Despite nine rounds of dialogue between the representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and representatives of the Beijing administration, held from 2002-10, China has rejected the Middle Way Approach, the official stance of the exile Tibetan government, that seeks genuine autonomy under the framework of the Chinese constitution. The diplomatic stalemate between the two sides has consequently stalled discussions regarding the potential return of His Holiness to Tibet.
This unprecedented move by the US House committee under the Biden Administration is followed by two other Acts that work on demanding more access from inside Tibet and reaffirming that the reincarnation of the next Dalai Lama falls strictly in the hands of the Tibetan people; Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act (2018) and Tibetan Policy and Support Act (2020) respectively.
The approval of the bill also comes just days after President Joe Biden met Chinese leader Xi Jinping on the side-lines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco, where the White House said that Biden raised concerns about China’s human rights abuses in Tibet.