(TibetanReview.net, Nov30, 2018) – The bill for Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act meandering through the US Congress since Apr 4, 2017, when it was introduced in both the Chambers, passed a major milestone on Nov 28 when it was unanimously approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The Act was passed by the House of Representatives in Sep 2018 and now needs to be approved by the full Senate before it could be submitted to President Donald Trump to sign it into law.
The law aims to end China’s isolation of Tibet and the Tibetan people from the outside world by requiring the Chinese government to allow American journalists, diplomats and tourists into Tibet, just as their Chinese counterparts are able to travel in the US.
The Act also highlights the discriminatory process that Tibetan-Americans have to go through at the Chinese Embassy and consulates when they apply for visas to visit Tibet on pilgrimage or to meet their relatives, noted Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, reporting on the latest development in the legislative move.
Foreigners, including from the USA, currently face heavily restrictions from entering Tibet, a historically independent country annexed by China in a series of moves in the 1950s. Chinese citizens are, on the other hand, free to travel throughout the US and other democratic countries.
The proposed law requires the Secretary of State to send a report to the Congress, identifying Chinese officials responsible for these unfair policies. Such officials will then be denied visas to enter the US until China’s policies change accordingly.
Senator Marco Rubio who, along with Senator Tammy Baldwin, had introduced the bill, expressed confidence in October that the Senate would pass the bill unanimously before the end of this year and that President Trump would sign it into law.