US announces move to sanction China officials forbidding Tibet entry to foreigners

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Photo courtesy: AP)

(, Jul08’20) – Acting under the mandate of the reciprocal access to Tibet Act (RATA) of 2018, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said Jul 7 that the Trump administration would impose visa restrictions on Chinese officials who block outsiders from visiting the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas. However, Pompeo’s statement does not mention names.

The sanction will target Chinese authorities “substantially involved” in creating and enforcing policies that keep American citizens out of Tibet.

“The United States seeks fair, transparent, and reciprocal treatment from the People’s Republic of China for our citizens,” Pompeo has said while announcing the US move. “We have taken several steps to further this goal. Unfortunately, Beijing has continued systematically to obstruct travel to the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas by US diplomats and other officials, journalists, and tourists, while PRC officials and other citizens enjoy far greater access to the United States.”

The US move seeks to address the issue of Chinese citizens being able to travel freely throughout the US and China almost always refusing to let American diplomats, journalists and tourists into Tibet.

Earlier, as a first step towards implementing the Act, the State Department released a report in Mar 2019 saying China “systematically impeded” American travel to Tibet in 2018.

Noting China’s abject failure to address US concerns on the issue, Pompeo said in his statement: “Therefore, today I am announcing visa restrictions on PRC government and Chinese Communist Party officials determined to be ‘substantially involved in the formulation or execution of policies related to access for foreigners to Tibetan areas,’ pursuant to the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018. Access to Tibetan areas is increasingly vital to regional stability, given the PRC’s human rights abuses there, as well as Beijing’s failure to prevent environmental degradation near the headwaters of Asia’s major rivers.”

Pompeo further made it clear that the US would continue to address the issue of Tibet in an all-round manner.

“The United States will continue to work to advance the sustainable economic development, environmental conservation, and humanitarian conditions of Tibetan communities within the People’s Republic of China and abroad. We also remain committed to supporting meaningful autonomy for Tibetans, respect for their fundamental and unalienable human rights, and the preservation of their unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity. In the spirit of true reciprocity, we will work closely with the U.S. Congress to ensure U.S. citizens have full access to all areas of the People’s Republic of China, including the TAR and other Tibetan areas.”

Last month, 57 lawmakers from 19 European countries published an op-ed calling on their governments to pass their own versions of RATA.

British Conservative Party MP Tim Loughton introduced such a bill in the UK on Jun 6, the 85th birthday of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Loughton is a co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet in the parliament.

President Trump has repeatedly called for “fair and reciprocal treatment” from China.


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