The U.S. House of Representatives passed The Tibetan Policy and Support Act (TPSA), which seeks to hold Beijing responsible for rights abuses in the autonomous region of China.
The bill passed by a vote of 392 to 22 no Jan. 28 and will be sent to the Senate for consideration.
“It is a historic victory for Tibet, for justice and truth,” Radio Free Asia cites Ngodup Tsering, the Dalai Lama’s representative in North America, as saying.
The bill seeks to address the “considerably worse” human rights situation that has developed in Tibet since the original Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 was signed into law.
A cosponsor of the bill, representative James McGovern, said that the Chinese government refuses to hold dialogue with Tibetan leaders.
“Chinese officials continue to threaten the religious freedom of Tibetans to select Buddhist leaders, including a future 15th Dalai Lama — in clear violation of China’s international obligations to protect religious freedom. The policies of the Chinese government have severely degraded Tibetan religion, culture, language, livelihoods, and environment,” McGovern said in a statement.
If the bill passes, the legislation will establish as official U.S. policy that the succession of the future 15th Dalai Lama — the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism — will be “an exclusively religious matter” to be decided by the Tibetan Buddhist community.
The bill would likewise target Chinese officials who attempt to interfere in that process with sanctions in line with the Global Magnitsky Act.
It would further mandate that no new Chinese consulates can be opened on U.S. soil until a U.S. consulate is permitted in the Tibetan capital Lhasa.
Water security and climate change issues affecting Tibet, among other issues, are also addressed in the act.
In November 2019, U.S. lawmakers green-lit a bill supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, which was signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump that month.
In December 2019, the U.S. House passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act 2019, which is intended to punish Chinese officials for the mass internment of an estimated 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in camps across China’s northwestern Xinjiang region.
China blasted both pieces of legislation as blatant interference in the country’s internal affairs.