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U.S. Congress To Vote On Bill Recognizing Tibet As “Separate, Independent Country”

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U.S. Congress To Vote On Bill Recognizing Tibet As "Separate, Independent Country"

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On May 19th, US Senator Scott Perry introduced a bill to the US Congress that would “authorize the President to recognize the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China as a separate, independent country, and for other purposes”.

The bill, H.R. 6948 is sure to stir a bit of controversy with China.

The entire text of the bill hasn’t been revealed yet, but the title itself is quite showing – it is in line with recent US activities in continuously saying that Hong Kong should be left to fend for itself, as well as Taiwan, and opposes and Chinese territorial claims, be it land or maritime.

Rep Scott Perry was among the 32 members of Congress who signed the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission’s bipartisan letter to the US Secretary of State in May 2019 urging the Trump Administration to promptly implement key legislations—Tibet Policy Act of 2002 and the 2018 Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act—passed by Congress to guide United States policy on Tibet.

The Tibetan Autonomous Region with a total area of around 1,228,400 km2 (474,300 sq mi) encompasses the traditional Tibetan province of Utsang which includes areas of Utsang and part of Kham. The remaining two provinces of Kham and Amdo under Chinese rule has been divided as such; Kham was divided between Sichuan and Yunnan Chinese provinces and Amdo was divided between Gansu, Sichuan and Qinghai provinces.

There’s still no response from China’s side, but back in January 2020, the US House of Representatives passed a Tibet human rights bill, mentioned above.

The bill states that if Chinese officials interfere in the process of recognizing a successor or reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, they will be subject to sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act. It also calls for the establishment of a US consulate in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Tibet is an internationally recognized autonomous region within the People’s Republic of China, though many Tibetans dispute the legitimacy of China’s rule.

“It should be clear that we support a positive and productive US-China relationship,” McGovern said ahead of the vote. “But it is essential that human rights of all the people in China are respected by their government.”

Much of the opposition to the bill came from members of the House Freedom Caucus. Fiscal conservatives took issue with spending authorized by the bill, adding up to about $27 million annually over the 2021-2025 period.

Back then, China’s state outlet CGTN published an opinion piece by William Jones, who is he Washington bureau chief for Executive Intelligence Review and a non-resident fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.

According to him, the US Congress has no say in the future of Tibet.

“It’s not the first time that Congress has shown an interest in the region. In 2002, Congress passed the Tibet Policy Act, which called for political discussions between China and the Dalai Lama who had spent an awful lot of time soft-soaping U.S. legislators on the issue.

On several occasions in the 1980s, Congress, in legislation on the Ex-Im Bank, had treated Tibet as an independent “country,” provoking President Ronald Reagan to set the record straight. Signing the legislation into law, the president added a “signing statement” which reads: “I note that Tibet is listed as a country in section 8. The United States recognizes Tibet as part of the People’s Republic of China. I interpret Tibet’s inclusion as a separate country to be a technical oversight.” Reagan was no doubt being overly generous in his comment, as that inclusion in the legislation was no doubt intentional on the part of the Congress.

This latest legislation goes even further than the 2002 Tibet Policy Act that, demanding that the Tibetans be “free” to choose a successor to the Dalai Lama without any “interference” by the Chinese government. The selection of a religious leader in Tibet has always occurred in consultation with the Chinese government as early as the Qing period, when the position of a Dalai Lama was established in Tibet – in close consultation with the Qing government.”

Essentially, the January bill, as well as this new one being proposed are an exercise in futility, aimed at further raising the high tensions and to show that the US wouldn’t relent against the “Chinese regime.”

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