China demands retraction of US reciprocal access to Tibet bill

US Capitol Building. (Photo courtesy: ICT)
US Capitol Building. (Photo courtesy: ICT)

(, Dec15, 2018) – In its first official reaction on the issue, China on Dec 14 criticized the US Congress’s passage of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act and called on President Donald Trump not to sign it into law. Reports say, however, that President Trump is expected to sign the bill, apparently given its limited scope of application and therefore for affecting bilateral ties.

“The Act interferes in China’s domestic affairs with reckless disregard for facts and goes against the basic norms of international relations,” China’s official Xinhua news agency Dec 14 quoted the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang assaying at a daily press briefing.

The report noted that the Act, now going to the White House for President Donald Trump to sign into law, seeks to promote access to Tibet for US diplomats, journalists, and tourists by denying entry into the United States for Chinese officials deemed responsible for restricting access to Tibet.

“China firmly opposes the Act, and has lodged solemn representations with the US side over it,” Lu was further quoted as saying.

Stressing that Tibet-related affairs belonged to China’s domestic affairs that no country could interfere in, Lu was reported to have pointed out that any foreigners who wish to visit Tibet Autonomous Region could apply through normal channels.

While this may be true, China invariably rejects applications from journalists, diplomats, political leaders, and rights monitors unless they are officially invited for strictly chaperoned tours to theatrically prepared sites or otherwise known for their unabashed support for its rule in Tibet. Besides, Tibetan citizens of the United States are subjected to particularly severe restrictions when applying for visas. The new legislation particularly emphasizes access for these categories of visitors.

China has made it clear that it will not budge on these issues. Claiming that “the accusations against China in the Act are totally groundless and absolutely unacceptable by the Chinese government and people,” Lu has said, “We urge the US administrative bodies to take immediate measures to stop it being signed into law so as to avoid impairing China-US ties and cooperation in major areas.”


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