Tibet: Chairs Welcome Passage of the Tibetan Policy and Support Act

December 22, 2020

(Washington)— Representative James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the Chair and Cochair, respectively of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) welcomed final passage of Tibetan Policy and Support Act, legislation that demonstrates the U.S. government’s clear and bipartisan commitment to advocating for the rights of the Tibetan people.  

“I am proud that Congress has finally passed the Tibetan Policy and Support Act to update and strengthen U.S. policy to address the challenges facing the Tibetan people,” said Representative McGovern. “The legislation reaffirms America’s commitment to the idea that human rights matter, that we care about those who are oppressed, and we stand with those who are struggling for freedom. Passage of the Tibetan Policy and Support Act ensures the American people will remain steadfast partners of the Tibetan people well into the future.”

“Passage of the Tibetan Policy and Support Act sends an important message that the United States stands with the Tibetan people and against any effort by the Chinese Communist Party to interfere with the religious process of identifying Tibetan Buddhist leaders, such as the Dalai Lama,” Senator Rubio said. “We must continue to shine a light on the grave assaults against the Tibetan people’s religion, culture, and language by the Chinese Communist government, both inside Tibet and outside the PRC. I applaud the passage of this bipartisan legislation and urge the State Department to use the tools it provides to address escalating human rights abuses in Tibet.”

The bill was passed as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The Tibetan Policy and Support Act updates and strengthens the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002.  The Chairs urge the State Department to robustly implement the programs and directives in the bill to address systematic and egregious human rights abuses occurring in Tibet.

The legislation was first introduced by the Chairs in September 2019 (H.R. 4331 and S. 2539). Along with the Chairs, the bill was cosponsored by CECC Commissioners Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Tom Suozzi (R-NY), Brian Mast (R-FL), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), and Ben McAdams (D-OH) and Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Cotton (R-AK), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

H.R. 4331 passed the House of Representatives on January 28, 2019. The Tibetan Policy and Support Act—

  • Establishes as U.S. policy that the succession or reincarnation of Tibetan Buddhist leaders, including a future 15th Dalai Lama, is a religious matter reserved exclusively for the Tibetan Buddhist community.
  • Authorizes the use of existing sanctions for Chinese officials who interfere in the process of recognizing reincarnations or the succession of Tibetan Buddhist leaders, including a future 15th Dalai Lama, against the wishes of the Tibetan Buddhist community.
  • Provides funds for projects supporting Tibetan communities in areas such as sustainable economic development, cultural preservation, and education.
  • Reauthorizes the Office of the U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues and expands the office’s duties to include additional tasks, including international coalition building.
  • Requires the State Department to (1) seek to establish a U.S. consulate in Lhasa, Tibet; (2) establish a Tibet section in the U.S. embassy in Beijing; (3) make diplomatic efforts on issues such as water security in the region; and (4) encourage Nepal to provide legal documentation to certain Tibetan residents in Nepal.