In a joint statement, key authors of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act – Congressmen James McGovern and Randy Hultgren along with Senators Tammy Baldwin and Marco Rubio -- applauded the final passage in the Senate of their bipartisan bill.
Applauding the passage of a crucial bipartisan bill that hold China accountable for limiting access to Tibet, US lawmakers on Thursday warned Beijing that there will be “real consequences” for the Chinese officials who “systematically” violate the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people. In a joint statement, key authors of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act – Congressmen James McGovern and Randy Hultgren along with Senators Tammy Baldwin and Marco Rubio — applauded the final passage in the Senate of their bipartisan bill.
The US Senate on Tuesday passed ‘The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act’, that seeks to impose a visa ban on Chinese officials who deny American citizens, government officials and journalists access to Tibet, the remote Himalayan homeland of the exiled Dalai Lama. The legislation, passed unanimously, comes amidst the Trump administration imposing massive trade import duties on China that has started impacting the Chinese economy. The bill now heads to the White House for US President Donald Trump to sign into law.
“Once this bill is signed into law by the President, there will be real consequences for the Chinese officials who systematically violate the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people. If these officials want to visit the US, they must allow reciprocal access to Tibet,” Congressman McGovern said. Hultgren alleged, “The Chinese government has sought to hide their ongoing destruction of the culture, language and religion of the Tibetan people from the international community, including outside government officials and journalists, while their own officials and citizens enjoy unfettered access to the US.”
“This legislation helps to level the playing field for those Chinese government officials responsible for barring entry to the Tibetan region and is a step toward a freer exchange of information for the Tibetan people,” he said. Baldwin said if the Chinese government stands by its “nothing to see here” rhetoric about Tibet, then it should allow US government officials, journalists and citizens to visit. “Access to Tibet is blocked precisely because of China’s widespread human rights violations there, including official oppression of Tibetans’ religious freedom, culture, language and autonomy,” he said.
Chinese officials responsible for violations of democratic principles and for hiding them through restricting US citizen travel should not expect to travel freely in the US, a country founded on those very principles, Baldwin said. Rubio said China’s repression in Tibet includes keeping out those “who can shine a light on its human rights abuses” against the Tibetan people. “We should not accept a double standard where Chinese officials can freely visit the US while at the same time blocking our diplomats, journalists and Tibetan-Americans from visiting Tibet,” Rubio said. “I look forward to President Trump signing this bill into law that will help to restore some measure of reciprocity to America’s relationship with China,” said the Republican Senator from Florida.
The bill, which received support from both sides of the aisle in Congress, includes a national security waiver, and would require the secretary of state to submit an assessment to Congress of the level of access to Tibet granted to US government officials, journalists, and tourists by Chinese officials. If the secretary of state determines that there are restrictions on travel to Tibet, the appropriate Chinese officials will be ineligible to enter the US. The 14th Dalai Lama, who is 83 lives on exile in India. He fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in his homeland.