In yet another landmark victory for Tibetans and Tibet supporters around the world, the US House of Representatives today overwhelmingly passed the Tibetan Policy and Support Act (HR 4331), the most comprehensive policy bill on Tibet since the Tibet Policy Act- 2002. The supermajority vote on the legislation is a landmark show of support by the US for the Central Tibetan Administration, the Middle Way Policy and genuine autonomy for Tibetans, religious freedom, environmental protection of Tibetan plateau and restoration of freedom in Tibet. “On behalf of six million Tibetans I extend profound gratitude to the Chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and to all the co-sponsors for supporting the Tibetan Policy and Support Act,” CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay said. The President especially thanked Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Jim McGovern(D-Mass.), Congressman Chris Smith(R-NJ) and a longtime Tibet supporting Republican Congressman Ted Yoho.
President Dr Sangay was in Washington DC in September and November last year drumming up support for the bill and met with 21 Senators and Congresspersons Including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Jim McGovern, Congressman Ted Yoho, Congressman Andy Levin, Congressman Vern Buchanan, Congressman David Price, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Congressman Gerry Connolly, Congressman Ron Wright and Congressman Tim Burchett, Senator Mitt Romney, Senator James Risch, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Tom Cotton, Senator Josh Hawley, Senator Steve Daines, Senator Thom Tillis and Senator Pat Toomey. “Thanks to everyone who have worked towards this important landmark.” The President had written to all 535 members of Congress and senators through the Office of Tibet, Washington DC to urge their support.
Speaking on the House floor earlier today, the Chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Congressman Jim McGovern, who introduced the bill in House, stated, “The Central Tibetan Administration represents the legitimate aspirations of the Tibetan people” and recounted how China is the most prominent human rights abuser. “It should be clear that we support a positive and productive US-China relationship but it is essential that human rights of all the people of China are respected by their government.” Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton said: “The US will not cease to help Tibetan people until they get freedom”. Congressman Ted Yoho reaffirmed that the Tibetan issue has and will continue to attract bi-partisan support, and he promoted his place to invite His Holiness the Dalai Lama to address members of Congress through a video conference. CongressmanTom Suozzi mentioned his involvement with China Commission Town Hall meeting with the Tibetan community in New York last year and stated, “Attacks on religious freedom anywhere is an attack everywhere”. Finally, Speaker Pelosi graciously came to support the bill.
“As Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, the president of the Central Tibetan Administration has said, the very survival of Tibetan culture and identity is in peril. If we don’t speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interest, then we lose all moral authority to speak out for human rights anyplace in the world,” quoted Speaker Pelosi. “We are supporting the Tibetan people’s right to religious freedom and genuine autonomy by formally establishing a US policy that the Tibetan Buddhist community has the exclusive right to choose its religious leaders, including the future 15th Dalai Lama,” she said.
The bill was passed with a supermajority of 399 votes. Built on the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, the bill was introduced in the US House on 13 September 2019 by Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.), chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and introduced in the Senate on 24 September by the commission’s Co-Chair Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Senator Ben Cardin. The bill has 35 bipartisan co-sponsors. “This is an extremely significant and empowering day for Tibetans all over the world. We are grateful for the House of Representatives for standing up for the human rights of Tibetan people, as this is strong and clear support of truth, justice, and human rights. It also sends a strong message to the Chinese Government about the US government’s sentiments for Tibet, Tibetans, and human rights. We are confident that the bill will pass through the Senate and move to become a historic Act on Tibet”, stated Representative Ngodup Tsering.
Earlier that morning, Representative Tsering and Kelsang met with Congressman McGovern and discussed the bill. The four staff members of the Office of Tibet, including the Representative, attended the entire proceedings of the House. The next step is to go through the Senate where there is a significant show of support for the smooth passage. After the Senate, it will be sent to President Trump to be signed and become law. Read the text of the bill.