(TibetanReview.net, Jul14’22) – While the US government’s official position that Tibet is part of China may not change any time soon, a bipartisan bill introduced in Congress by lawmakers on Jul 13 would make it official government policy that Tibetans have the right to “self-determination” and that the dispute over Tibet’s status remains “unresolved” under international law, reported the scmp.com Jul 14.
The backers of the bill, which is titled as Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act, were reported to hope that the hardening of language around Washington’s position on Tibet could pressure Beijing into resuming long-stalled negotiations with the Dalai Lama, the region’s exiled spiritual leader.
The report cited Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts and one of the bill’s authors, as saying past appeals by the US for negotiations between Beijing and the Dalai Lama “without preconditions” had failed.
“The Chinese continue to turn their backs on the Dalai Lama,” McGovern, who introduced the bill with Representative Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas, has said. “Our bipartisan legislation seeks to strengthen US policy by grounding it in international law and countering Chinese disinformation, with the aim of getting the two sides to negotiate a durable solution.”
Significantly, the bill rejects as “historically false” China’s claims that Tibet has belonged to China since ancient times, and directs the State Department to bolster efforts to challenge the Chinese government’s messaging about the region.
Also, the legislation would also make it official US policy that “Tibet” refers to not only the Tibet autonomous region as defined by the Chinese government, but also the historically and ethnically Tibetan areas of today’s Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan provinces.
Senators have yet to introduce a companion to the bill.
The report noted that the latest effort underscores how a bitterly divided US Congress has found common ground in scrutinising alleged human rights abuses by the Chinese government, particularly in Hong Kong, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Tibet.
At the 8th World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet held in Washington on Jun 22, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi highlighted the bill’s imminent introduction, suggesting that the legislation would enjoy her powerful backing.
“Proudly, the United States remains fully committed to honouring the hopes and dreams of the Tibetan people [and] helping advance a future of freedom, peace and self-determination,” Pelosi said at that time.