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Congress passes Tibet rights bill reaffirming US support and establishing consulate

Congress passes Tibet rights bill reaffirming US support and establishing consulate

23.12.2020 | Hannah Brem | U. Pittsburgh School of Law, US DECEMBER 22, 2020 02:03:24 PM | 613

The US Congress Monday passed the Tibet Policy and Support Act (TPSA). The Senate passed the bill as an amendment to a 5,000-page spending bill, which also includes COVID-19 relief. The House of Representatives had previously passed the bill reaffirming the US government’s support for Tibet in January of 2020.

The TPSA establishes that the United States will respect Tibetan decisions regarding the “selection, education, and veneration” of Tibetan leaders, including the 15th Dalai Lama. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is eighty-five years old, and Tibetans have long sought confirmation that they will be able to choose his successor.

The bill also includes plans to establish a United States consulate in Lhasa, Tibet. The provision also specifies that the United States will not allow China to establish additional consulates in the United States until the United States establishes its Lhasa consulate. Lawmakers have further used the bill to call for talks between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama to “promote the human rights of the Tibetan people” and protect Tibetan water resources.

The legislation notes that 1.8 billion people depend on Tibetan glaciers for freshwater. China has diverted billions of cubic meters of water from these supplies yearly and “has plans to divert more waters from the Tibetan plateau.”

Lobsang Sangay, President of the Tibetan government-in-exile, told Reuters that the TPSA proves “that Tibet remains a priority for the United States and that it will continue its steadfast support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and [Tibetan Central Administration].”

Chinese officials have already condemned the legislation, and China has in the past imposed restrictions on the United States for promoting Tibetan rights.

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