House passes bill urging China to mend ties with Dalai Lama

Editor’s note: This report has been updated to correct a quote from Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.).

The House voted Wednesday to pass a bill that is urging China to mend ties with the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan leaders.

The legislation, named Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act, received broad bipartisan support and encourages China and Tibet to resolve the long-standing dispute over Tibet’s governance.

The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk after being passed by the Senate last month.

“Tibetans, like all people, have the right to religious freedom — which includes freedom from [Chinese Communist Party] surveillance, censorship, and detention,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said in a statement.

The legislation will allow State Department officials to “actively and directly” counter disinformation about Tibet that’s spread by the Chinese government, namely rejecting false claims that Tibet has been part of China since “ancient times,” the lawmakers said in their release.

It will also allow the U.S. to push for negotiations between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives over the future of Tibet.

The lawmakers noted that no formal dialogue between Tibetan and Chinese authorities has happened since 2010.

As the U.S. seeks to continue its diplomatic conversations with China, the legislation is a reminder that the U.S. recognizes the territory of Tibet as a country occupied by the People’s Republic of China and said there are significant human rights issues taking place there. China often pushes back on the Western view, accusing the U.S. of interfering in its sovereign affairs.

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) said in a statement that the bill will refresh the United States’s policy toward Tibet and push for negotiations to free the Tibetan people.

“Congressional passage of this legislation further demonstrates America’s resolve that the [Chinese Communist Party’s] status quo – both in Tibet and elsewhere – is not acceptable,” Young’s statement said.

“I look forward to this important effort becoming law and working with my colleagues in the Senate and with the Administration to ensure swift and effective implementation.”

House Rules Committee Ranking Member Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said he hopes the bipartisan support on the bill sends a message to the Tibetan people that America stands with them.

“The ongoing oppression of the Tibetan people is a grave tragedy, and our bill provides further tools that empower both America and the international community to stand up for justice and peace,” McGovern’s statement said.

Updated on June 13 at 9:23 a.m. EDT

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