United States Bicameral bill seeks reciprocal access to Tibet for US citizens as Xi arrives

U.S. Capitol Building.
U.S. Capitol Building.

(TibetanReview.net, Apr06, 2017) – On the eve of the arrival on Apr 5 of the Chinese President Xi Jinping, a bill was introduced in both the chambers of the US Congress, demanding that China grant the same access to its citizens as its own citizens receive from the US. Called the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, it was introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) in the Senate and by Congressmen Jim McGovern (D-MI) and Randy Hultgren (R-WI) in the House of Representatives.

The bipartisan legislation especially aims to promote access by Americans to Tibetan areas, which is routinely denied by Chinese authorities, said Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) Apr 4.

ICT said this was the first time such a bill was introduced simultaneously in both the House and the Senate, adding, a similar bill was introduced in the House during the last Congress.

Said ICT president Matteo Mecacci: “It conveys a clear message to the Trump Administration regarding the implementation of the principles of ‘reciprocity’ in its relations with China, aimed at promoting more access to Tibet for US citizens, including diplomats, politicians, non-governmental organizations, and journalists. While Chinese officials and citizens have unfettered and free access across the United States of America, US officials and citizens, including Tibetan-Americans, are highly restricted in traveling to Tibet. Unless restrictions on US citizens and officials are eased, then Chinese officials with oversight on Tibet policy should not be allowed into the United States.”

ICT said the Chinese government’s restrictions on foreign access to Tibet were part of their attempt to cover up a policy of oppression, which denies basic human and civil rights to the Tibetan people. It added that they had also imprisoned thousands of Tibetans for speaking their mind, as documented by the Congressional Executive Commission on China and human rights groups.

The proposed legislation aims to deny access to the United States by Chinese officials who are responsible for creating or administering policies on travel to Tibetan areas until China eliminates discriminatory restrictions on access by Americans to Tibet.

McGovern and Hultgren are co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

A summit between Xi and US President Donand Trump takes place at Mar-a-Lago in Florida over Apr 6-7. The past three Presidents – Clinton, Bush and Obama – had all raised publicly the situation inside Tibet during such summits, and had called for dialogue without preconditions with the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to resolve the issue, ICT noted.


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