Washington, USA: The US Congress has passed a crucial bipartisan bill that seeks to impose a visa ban on Chinese officials who deny American citizens, government officials and journalists access to Tibet.
The legislation, passed by a unanimous voice vote, comes amidst the Trump administration imposing massive trade import duties on China that has started impacting the Chinese economy.
The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, which seeks to ensure that Americans are given the same access to Tibet that Chinese citizens have to the United States, was passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
“The Reciprocal Act to Tibet Act is about fairness, human rights and careful US diplomacy at its core. For too long, China restricted access to Tibet, preventing journalists from observing human rights abuses in Tibet and preventing Tibetan Americans from visiting their home country. This bill seeks to reset that table,” Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said on the House Floor.
“And if Americans are not granted the same access to Tibet that the Chinese enjoy in the United States, then there should be consequences. This is more than reasonable and long overdue,” Ms. Jayapal said.
Concerns over China’s power and behaviour
Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen worried that in the years as China has grown in strength and power, Tibet has been purchased to the periphery.
“I was worried that China’s bully tactics on display had extended so far that our United States Congress had no longer had the will, no longer had the desire to speak out in support of Tibet,” she said.
The Congress is sending a true signal that the US has indeed not forgotten about the people of Tibet, that Congress will not accept Beijing’s bullying and intimidation and that the US lawmakers will stand up for human rights for the people of Tibet, she said.
‘Victory for human rights of Tibetans and Americans’
Speaking in support of the bill, Democratic leader Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi asserted that the issue of reciprocity is not only a human rights issue, but is also a practical matter. It is very important for the US to have a diplomatic presence in Lhasa. The bill, she said, takes an important step to advance freedom, dignity and prosperity for the Tibetan people.
The bill, Ms. Pelosi said, sends a clear signal that China’s meddling in Tibetan affairs is unacceptable. “For six decades, the people of Tibet have stood defiance in the face of oppression and brutality from an authoritarian China,” she said.