(TibetanReview.net, Dec20’19) – China has expressed bitter anger Dec 19 at the progress in the US Congress of the passage of a revised Tibetan policy legislation after it was approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee the day before. The legislation among other things seeks to sanction Chinese officials involved in meddling in the process for the recognition of the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation.
The Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2019 “blatantly interferes in China’s internal affairs and sends a wrong signal to the ‘Tibet independence’ forces,” China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang has told a regular Press Conference.
Maintaining that “Tibetan affairs are our internal affairs”, Geng has further said, “We made representations to the US and expressed deploring and strong opposition.”
He has demanded that the US “stop pushing that bill or using those issues as a pretext to interfere in China’s domestic affairs”.
Reporting and commenting on Geng’s remarks, China’ official globaltimes.cn Dec 20 claimed, citing its observers and a former senior religious affairs official, that the bill was full of “extremely wicked intentions”.
They were reported to have called for retaliatory measures such as imposing visa restrictions on the sponsors of the bill, including Representative James McGovern and Senator Marco Rubio who were pushing the bill in the two chambers of the US Congress.
In particular, the party mouthpiece cited Zhu Weiqun, former head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, as saying the bill was “laden with extremely wicked intentions aimed at supporting the Dalai clique and Tibet secessionists” while challenging “China’s legitimate sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
The report also cited Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University’s Institute of International Relations in Beijing, as saying the series of recent US bills related to China’s Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang were moves to contain China.
Zhi Zhenfeng, a legal and policy expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has said US individuals and NGOs that hold “extremely anti-China sentiments” should be sanctioned, while noting, however, that it was difficult to impose such sanctions, “considering that the current world order is still dominated by the US”.
The bill, which was unanimously approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, now goes to the full the House for a floor vote for which a date is yet to be scheduled.
The bill will establish a US policy that the selection of Tibetan religious leaders, including future successors to the exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is a decision to be made by Tibetans free from Chinese government interference. It will mandate sanctions against Chinese officials attempting to name a new Dalai Lama.
The bill also requires China to allow the opening of a US consulate in Tibet’s capital Lhasa before any new Chinese consulate can open in the United States.
And it addresses water security and climate change issues in Tibet and seeks to strengthen the still-unfilled State Department office of the Special Coordinator for Tibet.
The bill updates the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, a landmark legislation that made support for Tibet part of US law.