Overwhelming bi-partisan support . . .
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Tibetan Policy and Support Act on January 28. It establishes a policy of imposing sanctions against Chinese government officials who interfere with the selection of the Dalai Lama’s successor and allocates C$78 million over the next four years to fund Tibet-related projects, including cultural preservation and support for the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the Tibetan government in exile. The bill also mandates that no new Chinese consulates will be allowed to open in the United States until a U.S. consulate is established in Lhasa, the capital city of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The new bill is a revision of the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002.
Questions of succession . . .
In 2011, the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, relinquished his political authority over the CTA and announced it was time to identify his reincarnation. He says his successor should be chosen based exclusively on religious merits and with the consent of worshippers, and without any foreign interference, especially from the Chinese government. As part of its 2002 Tibet Policy Act, the U.S. created a Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues to promote dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives. Beijing, however, has refused offers of dialogue, and has claimed that the selection of the Dalai Lama’s successor must comply with Chinese law.
Empowering Tibet . . .
Similar to other recent human rights bills, such as the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act and the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, the Tibetan bill is likely to receive bi-partisan support in the U.S. Senate and be endorsed by President Donald Trump. While a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson immediately accused the U.S. government of interfering in China’s domestic affairs, the bill could go a long way toward strengthening the Dalai Lama’s stance on succession and increase diplomatic and popular support for the CTA, particularly in parts of India and Mongolia, where many sympathetic Buddhists live.
- CNN: House passes Tibet human rights bill
- South China Morning Post: New US bill demands China grant consulate in Tibet and stay away from Dalai Lama succession
- U.S. House of Representatives: Tibetan policy and support act of 2019