More than 60 US lawmakers urge Biden administration to prioritize Tibet issue

Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.

(, Dec15’21) – More than 60 US senators and Representatives, both Democrats and Republicans, have called on the Administration of President Joe Biden to prioritize the Tibet issue, including by engaging with Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and bringing renewed or changed focus on aspect of its existing policy.

In particular, the lawmakers have called on the Biden administration’s presumptive coordinator for Tibetan issues to push for a meeting between President Biden and the Dalai Lama, fully implement US laws on Tibet, and end the practice of calling Tibet a part of China.

The calls were made in letters to Under Secretary of State Uzra Zeya. She is expected to be appointed as the special coordinator for Tibetan issues in the State Department, according to Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) Dec 15.

Leading the move to write the letters were Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in the Senate and Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Chris Smith, R-NJ, in the House.

ICT said the broad, diverse and bipartisan swath of signers demonstrated once again Congress’ steadfast support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, religious freedom and basic human rights.

“These letters provide a vital framework for the next special coordinator to address China’s oppression in Tibet while making it clear that Congress expects the Biden administration to act quickly and meaningfully to support the Tibetan people,” ICT’s government relations director Franz Matzner has said.

Zeya currently serves as Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights – the position that has traditionally doubled as the special coordinator for Tibetan issues. The Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 mandates the appointment of the special coordinator.

The letters’ highlights included a suggestion that President Biden invite the Dalai Lama to the Oval Office—as several of his predecessors had done—or meet with him in his exile home of India, among other options. They called for resisting China’s attempts to interfere in the religious process for the recognition and enthronement of the Dalai Lama’s successor. They also called for ensuring full implementation of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018 to enable unencumbered access to Tibet for US journalists, diplomats and ordinary citizens. Besides, they called on the Biden Administration to make efforts to produce forward movement on resuming talks between the two sides on the Tibet issue.

In keeping with the State Department’s 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which for the first time did not refer to Tibetan areas as “part of the People’s Republic of China,” the Congress members have urge the State Department to continue excluding that phrase, both to promote dialogue without preconditions and to show respect for Tibetans’ rights and history.

The letters also call for support for Tibetan political prisoners, Tibetan refugees in Nepal, Tibetan language and culture, and many other things.


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