The Cold War in Asia
THE RECIPROCAL ACCESS TO TIBET ACT IS NOT FOR BOOSTING TOURISM
The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act is not for promoting Tibetan Tourism. The ‘Access’ is demanded to monitor Human Rights violations in the Occupied Tibetan territory.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
China pledges easier foreign tourist access to Tibet amid U.S. pressure
BEIJING (Reuters) – The Chinese government in Tibet said it will boost numbers and cut waiting times for foreign tourists visiting the highly restricted region, amid renewed pressure from the United States for greater access for U.S. officials and journalists.
U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act in December, which seeks to press China to open the region by denying U.S. entry for officials deemed responsible for restricting access to Tibet.
Beijing denounced the law at the time as interference in China’s internal affairs, risking “serious harm” to ties with Washington.
China and the United States are engaged in talks to try to hammer out a deal to end a festering trade dispute that has threatened to sour the relationship across the board, including on issues such as security, influence and human rights.
The Tibetan government will shorten the time required for foreign tourists to gain access to the region by half and boost numbers by fifty percent, Qizhala, chairman of the regional government, said in an annual work report published by the official Tibet Daily newspaper on Friday.
Non-Chinese visitors must apply for a special permit to travel to remote, mountainous Tibet, which is usually granted for tourists provided they travel with approved tour companies but rarely for journalists and diplomats.
Beijing has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since Chinese Communist Party troops marched into the region in 1950 in what it terms a “peaceful liberation”.
Qizhala also pledged that the government in Tibet would “take a clear-cut stance in the fight against the Dalai clique”, a reference to exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
“We must improve the monastery management and service mechanisms to defend the bottom line of Tibetan Buddhism not being manipulated by foreign forces,” he said, and management of religious activities must prevent another “upsurge” of religion.
Rights groups and overseas activists say ethnic Tibetans face widespread restrictions under Chinese rule and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said in June conditions were “fast deteriorating”.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of a Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. Supporters of Tibetan independence and of the Dalai Lama have staged protests in the past to mark the uprising’s anniversary, angering China.
China views the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s Buddhist spiritual leader who fled into exile in India after the failed uprising, as a dangerous separatist.
The Nobel Peace laureate denies espousing violence and says he only wants genuine autonomy for Tibet.
Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Paul Tait
ASIA REASSURANCE INITIATIVE ACT SYMBOLIZES THE COLD WAR IN ASIA
In my analysis, the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act symbolizes the reality of ‘The Cold War in Asia’. President of Tibet and the President of the United States have acknowledged the threat posed by the Enemy’s presence in Tibet.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
CTA President welcomes the enactment of Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA) | Central Tibetan Administration
CTA President hails the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act.
Dharamshala: President Dr Lobsang Sangay of Central Tibetan Administration hailed the enactment of the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA) on Tuesday, saying that the passage is a much-welcomed move. US President Donald Trump signed the ARIA Act into law on 31 December 2018, having passed the Senate and the House on 4 and 12 December respectively.
President Dr Sangay thanked the US Congress for passing the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, which references Tibet in terms of supporting “activities preserving cultural traditions and promoting sustainable development, education, and environmental conservation in Tibetan communities in the Tibet Autonomous Region and in other Tibetan communities in China, India, and Nepal.”
CTA President, in recent years, has made multiple visits to the United States and held high-level meetings in the Senate as well as the House of Representatives. During those meetings, he has relentlessly tabled the issue of prioritizing Tibet at the core of US policy. The Office of Tibet in Washington DC has also made tremendous efforts towards this.
“ARIA ensures that the US will continue to support Tibet by authorizing funds for Tibet-related programs and by highlighting Chinese human rights abuses against the Tibetan people,” said Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the lead sponsors of the Act.
Matteo Mecacci, president of the International Campaign for Tibet said: “This Act rightly places the issue of Tibet within the parameters of US security interests. Tibet occupies an Asian fault zone of clashing cultures and big-power politics.”
The Act, known as ARIA, aims at enhancing American leadership in the Indo-Pacific region and strengthening cooperation with regional partners, including India and Taiwan. It says, “The United States has a fundamental interest in defending human rights and promoting the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Following is the reference to Tibet in the Act.
SEC. 409. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
(a) Promotion of Democracy in the Indo-Pacific Region.–
(1) In general.–There is authorized to be appropriated $210,000,000, for each of the fiscal years 2019 through 2023, to promote democracy, strengthen civil society, human rights, rule of law, transparency, and accountability in the Indo- Pacific region, including for universities, civil society, and multilateral institutions that are focusing on education awareness, training, and capacity building.
(2) Democracy in china. –Amounts appropriated pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be made available for United States Government efforts, led by the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, to promote democracy, the rule of law, and human rights in the People’s Republic of China.
(3) Tibet. –Amounts appropriated pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be made available for nongovernmental organizations to support activities preserving cultural traditions and promoting sustainable development, education, and environmental conservation in Tibetan communities in the Tibet Autonomous Region and in other Tibetan communities in China, India, and Nepal.
The Act also recognizes India as a major Defense partner, the vital role of the strategic partnership between the United States and India in promoting peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region. Section 204 of the Act calls for strengthening and broadening of diplomatic, economic, and security ties between the two countries.
The Indo-Pacific is a biogeographic region, comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.
TIBET CRISIS – THE CIRCULAR MOVEMENT
Tibet Crisis began soon after the expansion of Communism to Asia with the emergence of the People’s Republic of China on October 01, 1949. Tibetans anticipated great ‘Trouble’ but hoped to ward off belligerent Communist Regime through peaceful negotiations.
Tibet to defend vital national interests agreed to accept military assistance from the United States with the cooperation and help from India. Communist China used this Tibetan response for nationalistic survival as an excuse to invade Tibet. This illegal invasion of Tibet by Communist China in 1950 precipitated the Tibet Crisis.
To move forward, Tibet requested “Meaningful Autonomy” to reconcile with China’s military occupation. In 1951, using deception and intimidation tactics, China forced Tibetans to sign the 17-Point Plan or the Seventeen-Point Agreement for Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. This Agreement grants “Autonomy” to Tibetans to manage their internal affairs. By 1957, Tibetans recognized China’s deception. They watched helplessly as China launched measures to fully consolidate the hold over every aspect of Tibetan National Life.
In 1959, Tibetans launched an unsuccessful, massive, National Uprising to break China’s military grip over Tibet. As a consequence of this public revolt, the Supreme Ruler of Tibet was forced to live in exile. Tibet Crisis remains unresolved as the tyrannical Communist Regime always finds justification to deny the just demands of Tibetan people. Tibetans are not able to move forward to bring the Tibet Crisis to a peaceful conclusion.
In my analysis, ‘The Middle Way Approach’ or the ‘UMAYLAM’ does not help to move forward. It represents a Circular Movement taking Tibetans Backwards from 2018 to 1953 when Tibet and China agreed upon the grant of Autonomy to Tibetans under the Chinese Rule.
Tibetans come up with a film to resolve Tibet crisis
CTA releases a film titled ‘Umay Lam: Middle Way-The Way Forward’.
A screenshot of the film Umay Lam Middle Way – The Way Forward. (Photo: SNS)
The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) on Wednesday released a film titled ‘Umay Lam: Middle Way-The Way Forward’ to resolve Tibet issue.
A CTA official said Umay Lam in Tibetan means the Middle Way Approach and this policy is proposed by Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama to peacefully resolve the issue of Tibet.
The policy also aims to bring about stability and co-existence between the Tibetan and Chinese people based on equality and mutual co-operation.
It is also a policy adopted democratically by the CTA and the Tibetan people through a series of discussions held over a long time, he added.
Produced by Tibet TV and directed by Tibetan filmmaker Tenzin Kalden, the film showcases the relevance of the Middle Way Approach as the Tibetan freedom struggle enters its 60th-year threshold.
The film shows the first generation of Tibetans who lived through the invasion, are now slowly phasing out and the new generation of Tibetans have taken over the mantle of the freedom struggle.
The 18-minute film features leading Tibetan political personalities engaged in Sino-Tibetan negotiations to share their experience and provide commentary on the Middle Way Approach.
The film also highlights how in their own homeland, Tibetans continue to resist the repressive Chinese policies threatening their religion, culture, and identity.
The film illustrates how Umay Lam (Middle Way Policy) which proposes a mutually beneficial solution for Tibet and China wherein Tibetans seek ‘Genuine Autonomy’ within the framework of the People’s Republic of China.
And in return, China maintains, its territorial integrity, is the way forward and the most viable solution to resolving the longstanding Sino-Tibetan issue.
TIBET AWARENESS – TIBET IS THE CORE ISSUE FOR INDIA
There should be no border dispute between India and the People’s Republic of China as they do not share a common border. The problem of China’s military occupation of Tibet should be addressed by the global community of nations to secure Peace, Security, and Justice in South Asia.
Tibet should be one of the core issues for India, says Lobsang Sangay, the head of Tibetan Government-in-Exile
Tibet should be one of the core issues for India as China is trying to “influence” all of its neighbours, Lobsang Sangay, the head of the Tibetan government in exile has said.
Tibet should be one of the core issues for India, says Lobsang Sangay (Reuters)
Tibet should be one of the core issues for India as China is trying to “influence” all of its neighbours, Lobsang Sangay, the head of the Tibetan government in exile has said. China insists Tibet has been part of its territory for centuries, but many Tibetans say they were essentially independent for most of that time. The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in his Himalayan homeland.
Sangay, who is currently here, has met several senior US administration officials, congressmen and senators and members of the think-tank community like the Hudson Institute. Explaining his quest for India making “Tibet a core issue”, Harvard educated Sangay said that after the occupation of Tibet, the People’s Liberation Army has now moved near the border of India.
“Now they are influencing all of India’s neighbours, from Pakistan, to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. It is a reality now,” he said in an interview to PTI.
India and Tibet have had historically, cultural and civilizational ties for hundreds of years, he said, adding Tibet is the source of water for India and South Asia. “For these reasons, Tibet is very important for not just India, for whole of South Asia and ASEAN countries too. Hence, Tibet should be one of the core issues for India,” Sangay said.
“China has already said Tibet is one of the core issues. So, India should also table Tibet as one of the core issues and address this issue with Tibetan people in mind,” he said. Responding to a question, Sangay said that the people of Tibet are following the middle way approach by seeking “genuine autonomy within the framework of the Chinese constitution”. “This is the reasonable moderate line,” he said.
For that there should be a dialogue between the envoys of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese Government, he said. He sought the revival of a dialogue that happened between 2002 to 2010. “We think, that kind of dialogue will lead to the resolution of the Tibetan issue,” he said.
THE NEHRU LEGACY – THE COLD WAR IN ASIA
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s foreign policy during the Cold War Era is often misunderstood as nations were forced to use secret diplomatic negotiations in the conduct of foreign policy. In my analysis, the Indian Prime Minister took appropriate action not only to defend India’s security interests but also to help Tibet to the extent possible.
I hold the People’s Republic of China completely responsible and accountable for her acts of military aggression during 1950 and later in 1962. I find no reason to blame either Indian Prime Minister or Tibet for China’s misconduct.
I ask my readers to give attention to Indian support to Nationalist China during the concluding years of World War II. Apart from delivering weapons and military supplies to Nationalist China, the US with Indian assistance supplied weapons to Tibet prior to the Communist takeover of the mainland China. This military intervention in Tibet provided an excuse to Communist China to invade Tibet in 1950. I do not find fault with either India or Tibet. Their combined military power is not adequate to maintain the Balance of Power in South Asia. There is nothing wrong if weaker nations use diplomatic negotiations to resolve problems with stronger and powerful nations. It is indeed a practical and rational approach and I would not ridicule such attempts as an appeasement policy.
I uphold the valid concerns shared by India’s former Deputy Prime Minister, but I would not use his concerns to find fault with Prime Minister Nehru’s Foreign Policy Legacy. India has not yet changed the course of the foreign policy direction set up by Nehru.
Opinion, Op Ed
The writer is based in South India for the past 40 years. He writes on India, China, Tibet, and Indo-French relations.
Patel-Nehru rift over Tibet & China was deep
Published Nov 8, 2018, 7:46 am IST
Updated Nov 8, 2018, 7:46 am IST
The most serious cause of discord was the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese “Liberation Army” in October 1950.
On October 31, the world’s tallest statue, the Statue of Unity dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photo: @narendramodi/Twitter)
On October 31, the world’s tallest statue, the Statue of Unity dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The work on the 182-meter tall statue has been completed after round the clock work by 3,400 laborers and 250 engineers at Sadhu Bet island on Narmada river in Gujarat. Sadhu Bet, located some 3.5 km away from the Narmada Dam, is linked by a 250-meter-long long bridge.
Unfortunately, for several reasons, scarce scholarly research has been done on the internal history of the Congress; the main cause is probably that a section of the party would prefer to keep history under wraps. Take the acute differences of opinion between Sardar Patel, the deputy prime minister, and “Panditji”, as Nehru was then called by Congressmen. In the last weeks of Patel’s life (he passed away on December 15, 1950), there was a deep split between the two leaders, leading to unilateral decisions for the PM, for which India had to pay the heaviest price.
The most serious cause of discord was the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese “Liberation Army” in October 1950. In the course of recent researches in Indian archives, I discovered several new facts. Not only did several senior Congress leaders, led by Patel, violently oppose Nehru’s suicidal policy, but many senior bureaucrats too did not agree with the Prime Minister’s decisions and objected to his policy of appeasement with China, which led India to lose a peaceful border.
On November 11, 1950, the deputy prime minister of India addressed a meeting organized by the Central Aryan Association to commemorate the 67th death anniversary of Swami Dayanand Sarasvati. It was to be his last speech. What did he say? The Sardar spoke of the potential dangers arising from what was happening in Tibet and Nepal, and he exhorted his countrymen: “It was incumbent on the people to rise above party squabbles and unitedly defend their newly won freedom.” He cited the example of Gandhi and Swami Dayanand.
Sardar Patel then criticized the Chinese intervention in Tibet; he asserted that to use the “sword” against the traditionally peace-loving Tibetan people was unjustified: “No other country in the world was as peace-loving as Tibet. India did not believe, therefore, that the Chinese government would actually use force in settling the Tibetan question.” He observed that the Chinese government did not listen to India’s advice to settle the Tibetan issue peacefully: “They marched their armies into Tibet and explained this action by talking of foreign interests intriguing in Tibet against China.” The deputy prime minister added that this fear was unfounded; no outsider was interested in Tibet. The Sardar continued by saying that “nobody could say what the outcome of Chinese action would be. But the use of force ultimately created more fear and tension. It was possible that when a country got drunk with its own military strength and power, it did not think calmly over all issues.” He strongly asserted that the use of arms was wrong: “In the present state of the world, such events might easily touch off a new world war, which would mean disaster for mankind.”
Did he know that it was his last message? “Do not let cowardice cripple you. Do not run away from danger. The three-year-old freedom of the country has to be fully protected. India today is surrounded by all sorts of dangers and it is for the people today to remember the teachings of the two great saints and face fearlessly all dangers.”
The deputy prime minister concluded: “In this kalyug, we shall return ahimsa for ahimsa. But if anybody resorted to force against us, we shall meet it with force.” He ended his speech citing Swami Dayananda: “People should also remember that Swamiji did not get a foreign education. He was the product of Indian culture. Although it was true that they in India had to borrow whatever was good and useful from other countries, it was right and proper that Indian culture was accorded its due place.” Who is ready to listen to this, even today?
Days earlier, Patel had written a “prophetic” letter to Nehru, detailing the implications for India of Tibet’s invasion. In fact, Patel used a draft done by Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, the secretary-general of the ministry of external affairs and Commonwealth relations. However, Nehru decided to ignore Patel’s letter.
Witnessing the nefarious influence of K.M. Panikkar, the Indian ambassador to China, who ceaselessly defended China’s interests, Bajpai, the most seasoned Indian diplomat, had lost his cool. On October 31, in an internal note, he detailed the sequence of events which followed Tibet’s invasion and the role of Panikkar, whose attitude was compared to Sir Neville Chamberlain’s towards Hitler.
Bajpai’s anger demonstrates the frustration of many senior officers; the account starts on July 15, when the governor of Assam informed Delhi that, according to the information received by the local intelligence bureau, Chinese troops, “in unknown strength, had been moving towards Tibet from three directions.” Not only was Panikkar unable to get any confirmation, but he virtually justified Beijing’s military action by writing: “In view of frustration in regard to Formosa, the Tibetan move was not unlikely.” During the next three months, the Indian ambassador would systematically take the Chinese side.
After receiving Bajpai’s note, Patel wrote back: “I need hardly say that I have read it with a great deal of interest and profit to myself and it has resulted in a much better understanding of the points at issue and general, though serious, nature of the problem. The Chinese advance into Tibet upsets all our security calculations. … I entirely agree with you that a reconsideration of our military position and a redisposition of our forces are inescapable.”
Some more details of the seriousness of the situation filter through Inside Story of Sardar Patel: The Diary of Maniben Patel, the daughter of the Sardar. In an entry on November 2, 1950, Maniben wrote: “Rajaji and Jawaharlal had a heated altercation about the Tibet policy. Rajaji does not at all appreciate this policy. Rajaji very unhappy — Bapu (Patel) did not speak at all.”
Later in the afternoon, “Munshi complained about Tibet policy. The question concerns the whole nation — said he had written a personal letter to Panditji on Tibet.”
Later, Patel told K.M. Munshi: “Rajaji, you (Munshi), I (Patel), Baldev Singh, (C.D.) Deshmukh, Jagjivan Ram, and even Sri Prakash are on one side, while Gopalaswamy, Rafi, Maulana (Azad) are on his side.” There was a vertical split in the Cabinet, and it was not only about Tibet. The situation would deteriorate further during the following weeks.
On December 12, Patel was divested on his portfolios. Nehru wrote: “In view of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s ill-health it is absolutely necessary that he should have complete rest and freedom from worry, so as to be able to recuperate as rapidly as possible. …no work should be sent to him and no references made to him in regard to the work of these ministries.”
Gopalaswami Ayyangar, from the “other side”, was allotted the ministry of states and Nehru kept the ministry of home. The Sardar was only informed after the changes were made. He was a dejected man. Three days later he passed away.
Tags: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru
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TIBETAN RESISTANCE MOVEMENT IS NOT ABOUT SEPARATISM
On behalf of Living Tibetan Spirits, I declare that The Tibetan Resistance Movement is not about Separatism. For centuries, Chinese Emperors ruled over Tibet without physically occupying Tibet. In other words, Tibetans enjoyed full freedom during the centuries of rule by foreigners. Tibetans resist the physical occupation of their territories. The issue is not that of separating Tibet from China. The issue is that of evicting the Occupier from Tibetan Soil.
CHINA LEADER CALLS FOR ‘ANTI-SEPARATISM EFFORTS’ IN TIBET
The Associated Press
FILE – In this Sept. 17, 2014, file photo, an Exile Tibetan woman wears a mask during a protest to highlight Chinese control over Tibet, coinciding with the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in New Delhi, India. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)
A top Chinese leader has called for “advancing anti-separatism efforts” in Tibet, in a sign of continued high-pressure tactics in the Himalayan region.
Wang Yang, the ruling Communist Party’s No. 4 ranking official, was quoted Monday in state media as stressing the importance of tight control over Tibet’s Buddhist institutions, urging “preparedness and precautions for danger in times of safety.”
Religious figures must “be courageous to battle all separatist elements” in the name of preserving national unity and social stability, Wang was quoted as saying in Tibet’s regional capital of Lhasa during a visit there on Sunday.
Beijing’s forces occupied Tibet shortly after the 1949 communist revolution and security there has been ratcheted up significantly in the decade since anti-government protests spread through Tibetan areas in 2008.
The tactics in Tibet are largely aimed at reducing the influence of the region’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India. China claims Tibet has been part of its territory for more than seven centuries and regards the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist.
Many Tibetans insist they were essentially independent for much of that time.
Wang has broad responsibility for religious policy as head of the government’s top political advisory body. In his comments Sunday, he also echoed Beijing’s calls for the Sinicization of religion, shorthand for adherence to the dictates of the officially atheist party.
Among recent tightening security measures in Tibet, students were required to sign agreements to “not take part in any form of religious activity” during the summer school holidays.
Young Tibetan monks have also reportedly been forced to leave one of the biggest monasteries in a Tibetan region of western China as part of a drive to replace monastic life with secular education.
Recent months have also seen sweeping crackdowns on traditional Muslim culture among the Uighur ethnic minority group in the northwestern region of Xinjiang and among Christians in eastern China.
TIBET AWARENESS – LIVING TIBETAN SPIRITS WELCOME RECIPROCAL ACCESS TO TIBET ACT
To promote Tibet Awareness, Living Tibetan Spirits welcome The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act. Transparency and Public Accountability are important to re-establish Tibet Equilibrium.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE
US HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES RECIPROCAL ACCESS TO TIBET ACT – TIBET POST INTERNATIONAL
US House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte delivering his statement in Washington DC, USA, on July 25, 2018. Markup of H.R. 1872, the “Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2017”. Photo: Youtube Screenshot
Washington, D.C. — The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act took a big step forward when the House Judiciary Committee approved the bill unanimously. The next step is for the act to move to the floor of the House of Representatives.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) Wednesday delivered the following statement during the Committee’s markup of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2017 (H.R. 1872). The Committee approved this bill by voice vote”.
Chairman Goodlatte in his statement said, “H.R. 1872, the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2017, addresses an issue of longstanding and increasing concern regarding China’s treatment of Tibetans living in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas controlled by China.”
“In 1950, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army went into Tibet [Central Tibet] in order to establish control over the region. In the years since then, as noted by the U.S. Department of State, the Chinese Government “has imposed severe restrictions on Tibetans’ ability to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms,” the Committee said in a press release issued on July 25, 2018.
“Such restrictions occur with regard to religious practices, freedom to travel, freedom to practice cultural and language preferences, and other aspects of life,” Goodlatte said.
“In addition, the Chinese government routinely engages in human rights abuses, such as extrajudicial killings, torture, and arbitrary arrests,” Goodlatte added by saying: “In fact, the Chinese government’s actions are so severe that in recent years, over 150 Tibetans have self-immolated in a last ditch effort to get the rest of the world to focus on the problem.”
“In order to prevent documentation of the religious freedom restrictions and other human rights abuses to the outside world, the Government of China has severely limited access by foreign nationals to the Tibetan regions,” Goodlatte added to the statement.
“Such limitations prevent access to U.S. officials seeking diplomatic and consular access, journalists, human rights workers, and even tourists. When rare access is granted, activities are closely monitored by the PRC and information dissemination is restricted,” Goodlatte further said.
The statement quoted the US-based advocacy group for Tibet, ICT President Matteo Mecacci, who noted in a recent report that the Chinese government is trying to restrict access to Tibet to a degree that exceeds even North Korea, where at least some foreign media are based. By contrast, international journalists, diplomats and civilians are almost always denied access to Tibet, a historically independent nation that China has occupied for nearly 70 years and rules with an iron fist.
“In fact, travel by Chinese nationals, including those with direct and substantial involvement in the formulation of policies to restrict access to Tibet, is routinely allowed by governments all over the world, including the United States,” the Committee Chairman stressed.
According to the US House Judiciary Committee Chairman, “During FY 2017, for instance, nearly 1.5 million tourist visas were issued by the United States to Chinese nationals. And those visas are valid for ten years – during which the Chinese nationals can visit the U.S. multiple times. During that same period, the United States issued nearly 4,500 diplomatic visas to Chinese officials.”
H.R. 1872 prohibits an individual who is “substantially involved in the formulation or execution of policies related to access for foreigners to Tibetan areas” from being granted a U.S. visa if the Secretary determines that;
1) the requirement for specific official permission for foreigners to enter the Tibetan Autonomous Region remains in effect; or
2) such requirement has been replaced by a regulation that has a similar effect and requires foreign travelers to gain a level of permission to enter the Tibet Autonomous Region that is not required for travel to other provinces in China; and
3) restrictions on travel by officials, journalists, and citizens of the United States to areas designated as ‘Tibetan Autonomous’ in the provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan, and Gansu of China are greater than any restrictions on travel by such officials and citizens to areas in such provinces that are not so designated.
“Any visa currently held by such individuals will be revoked under the bill,” the Committee said, adding: “The bill then requires the State Department to report annually to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees as well as the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on the number of actions taken regarding visas pursuant to the legislation.”
The Chairman also quoted the State Department as saying, “in recent years there have been very small inroads made with regard to access to the Tibetan areas. And while some have expressed the concern that moving this bill could make the Chinese Government roll back some of those inroads, moving this bill is the right thing to do. It is time that Congress take a stand with regard to access by foreign nationals to the Tibetan regions.”
“I want to thank Congressman McGovern for his work on this issue and I urge my colleagues to support the bill. I yield back the balance of my time,” says Chairman Goodlatte.
One by one, other committee members spoke up at this morning’s hearing in support of the bipartisan legislation, which seeks to ensure that Americans are given the same access to Tibet that Chinese citizens have to the United States.
Under the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, Chinese officials responsible for discriminating against Americans who try to enter Tibet would be banned from entering the United States.
“If Chinese officials, journalists and other citizens are able to travel freely in this country, it’s only fair that their American counterparts are able to do the same,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), ranking member of the Committee, said that the bill is important because it can help expose human rights violations taking place in Tibet.
“For Tibetans, restricted access to the region leaves them in virtual isolation from the rest of the world,” Nadler said, “while also precluding international witnesses to the Chinese government’s continuous violations of the Tibetans’ human rights,” which include arbitrary arrests, torture, heightened surveillance and severe restrictions on religious freedom.
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) warned that “China is seeking to undermine the rules-based international order virtually every day.” Although China tries to keep the rest of the world out of Tibet, the Chinese government is sending a growing number of state delegations to Western countries and creating new state-controlled media outlets in capitals around the globe, including Washington D.C.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D.-Calif.) said the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act would help make sure China’s relationship with the U.S. is fair and reciprocal.
The bill, which was introduced by Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), now has more than 50 co-sponsors in the House. A companion bill was also introduced in the Senate by Sen. Rubio (R. – Fl.) and Sen. Baldwin (D. Wis.), and now has 8 co-sponsors.
In addition, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently expressed support for reciprocal access to Tibet for Americans in his statements to the House and Senate Foreign Affairs Committees.
The totalitarian regime in Communist China began their invasion of Tibet in 1949, reaching complete occupation of the country in 1959. Since that time, more than 1.2 million people, 20% of the nation’s population of six million, have died as a direct result of China’s invasion and occupation. In addition, over 99% of Tibet’s six thousand religious monasteries, temples, and shrines, have been looted or decimated resulting in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of sacred Buddhist scriptures.