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Congress Considers Major Reform of US Policy Toward Tibet

By Sarah Mills-Hicks  /  May 6, 2017;

Congressman Jim McGovern giving his speech at the House of Representatives in Washington DC on May 2, 2017
Photo: Screen grab

Jim McGovern, a senior Democrat congressman, has urged United States Congress to reconsider US policy towards Tibet. The aims of policy reform would be to hold China accountable for human rights abuses currently occurring in the country whilst safeguarding Tibet’s unique cultural identity.

McGovern commented on numerous atrocities committed by the Chinese government, including growing concern for the missing Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, first captured in 1995 and who’s whereabouts is still unknown. McGovern also noted the death in custody of revered Lama, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche in July 2015, asking China to allow an open investigation into his death. The ongoing conflict and destruction of buildings in Larung Gar was also recognised as an affront on the human rights of Tibetan people.

McGovern is also advocating the introduction of a new bill: H.R. 1872 – The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act. He stated, “If China wants its citizens and officials to travel freely in the US, Americans must be able to travel freely in China and Tibet.”He also asserted: “either Tibetans are Chinese citizens or they are not. If they are, they must enjoy the same rights and privileges as other Chinese citizens.” As such, the introduction of this bill would also allow for the people of Tibet to have freedom of movement, to and from their homeland as well as across the globe.

Furthermore, it is hoped that the act will enable the development of a U.S. Consular Office in Tibet. The benefits of having such an office would be numerous and would ensure, for example, a more immediate international response to disasters such as the 2015 earthquake.

McGovern also requested that the US secretary of state meet with the president of Central Tibetan Administration Dr. LobsangSangay. Such a meeting would allow the government to affirm its international links, creating a powerful group of allies across the globe.

Republican congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, who is cosponsoring H.R.1872, The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, supported him. These acts demonstrate bipartisan US Congressional backing for the country and condemnation of the Chinese regime’s increasing aggression. “It is time to pursue a coordinated international action in support of the Tibetan people,” McGovern concluded.

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