(TibetanReview.net, Dec28’20) – After stalling for nearly a week, US President Donald Trump has on Dec 27 signed into law his government’s spending bill, which included the Tibet Policy and Support Act of 2020. China had said it was “resolutely” opposed to the bill and demanded that it be not signed by him.
President Trump’s complaint for refusing to sign the seemingly veto-proof legislation was that the Covid-19 relief amount was too little. Besides, he did not like money being provided for foreign countries and others in the spending bill.
The White House issued a press release Dec 27 night, stating that President Trump had signed the appropriations bill for the 2021 fiscal year, which totaled US$2.3 trillion. In addition to the US$900 billion of Covid-19 relief, the omnibus legislation included the Tibetan Policy and Support Act and the Taiwan Assurance Act of 2020.
The Tibet Policy and Support Act stipulates that Chinese interference in the selection of the Dalai Lama’s successor will be perceived as a violation of Tibetan religious freedom, allowing the American government to place economic and visa sanctions on the Chinese officials involved. The act also states that China cannot establish a new consular office in the US until Washington is permitted to establish an office in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.
The Taiwan Assurance Act aims at deepening Taiwan-US relations. It expresses support for Taiwan’s defense strategy of asymmetric warfare and encourages the country to increase defense spending. It also calls for the normalization of regular arms sales to strengthen the East Asian nation’s self-defense capabilities.
The Act emphasizes US support for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the UN and affiliated organizations, such as the World Health Assembly (WHA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), and other international groups that do not require statehood for participation.
President Trump’s initial refusal to sign the long-pending, urgently needed bill had made its future uncertain. The 92-6 vote in the Senate and the 359-53 vote in the House both were well over the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto. However, some Republicans might balk at overriding a veto if Trump uses that power, noted a Reuters report Dec 23.