US Congress progresses bill to open Tibet

Potala Palace. Lhasa.
Potala Palace. Lhasa.
Potala Palace. Lhasa.
20th December 2019

Bill that pushes for a US consulate in Lhasa will move forward to House vote.

A bill that would strengthen the presence of the United States in Tibet moved forward in Congress this week after the House Foreign Affairs Committee gave it unanimous approval on Wednesday. 

The Tibetan Policy and Support Act (TPSA) of 2019, which is co-sponsored by James McGovern and Marco Rubio, will now be put up for a vote on the House floor. A date for this is yet to be confirmed.

The TPSA would force China to allow the US to open a consulate in Tibet’s capital of Lhasa before any new Chinese consulate could become operational in the US. 

And if passed it would strengthen the State Department’s office of the Special Coordinator for Tibet. 

The bill will also establish a US policy that Tibetans should be free to choose their next spiritual leader when the moment comes, without interference from Beijing. It  threatens sanctions against Chinese officials who try to name their own successor.

The Chinese government wants to name a new Dalai Lama to create a Tibetan leader who will operate in their interests, while the US opposes the efforts.

The bill has already sparked tension between China and the US, with Beijing calling for it to be halted. The Chinese Foreign Ministry urged the US to stop “exploiting” the situation in Tibet in what it calls attempts to interfere with China’s internal affairs.

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