WASHINGTON—U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Todd Young (R-IN) have introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to strengthen the United States’ policy to promote dialogue between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Dalai Lama toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Tibet and the PRC.
The Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act seeks to empower the United States government to achieve it long-standing goal of getting Tibetans and PRC authorities to resolve their differences peacefully through dialogue. The legislation ensures that U.S. policy is grounded in principles of international law, and accurately reflects that the conflict between Tibet and the PRC remains unresolved. It seeks to jump start negotiations between PRC officials and the Dalai Lama or his representatives. No formal dialogue has happened since 2010, and Chinese officials continue to make unreasonable demands of the Dalai Lama as a condition for further dialogue.
“The Tibetans are a people who deserve to have their rights respected under international law,” said Congressman McGovern. “This includes the right of self-determination, which they have been denied by the Chinese government and the international community. The Biden Administration has been vocal about Ukrainians’ rights to decide how they are governed, and the Tibetan people are no less entitled to this right under founding UN covenants. Our bipartisan bill can help incentivize the two sides to negotiate a durable solution.”
“The Chinese Communist Party continues to oppress the Tibetan people. Tibetans are subject to the CCP’s mass surveillance and censorship tactics and are arbitrarily killed or imprisoned for expressing their desire for freedom. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to reject the CCP’s claims that their tyranny over Tibet is legitimate and will assert the Tibetan people have a say in their own future,” said Chairman McCaul.
“America’s values supporting freedom and self-determination for all people must be at the center of all of our actions and relationships around the world—especially as the Chinese government pushes an alternative vision,” said Senator Merkley. “This legislation makes clear that the United States views the Tibet-China conflict as unresolved and that the people of Tibet deserve a say in how they are governed. It sends a clear message to the People’s Republic of China: we expect meaningful negotiations over Tibet’s status and do not view current Chinese government actions as meeting those expectations,” said Senator Merkley.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) aggression towards Tibet is self-serving, with negotiations and even the very definition of Tibet on the CCP’s terms. We must refresh U.S. policy towards Tibet, and push for negotiations that advance freedoms for the Tibetan people and peaceful resolution to the CCP’s conflict with the Dalai Lama. Putting this bill forward again demonstrates America’s resolve that the CCP’s status quo – both in Tibet and elsewhere – is not acceptable,” said Senator Young.
The Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act has two main components:
It strengthens the basis for U.S. support for dialogue by making it U.S. policy that the Tibetan people are a people entitled to the right of self-determination under international law and that their ability to exercise this right is precluded by the current PRC policies; and that the conflict between Tibet and the PRC is unresolved, and that the legal status of Tibet remains to be determined in accordance with international law.
It also counters PRC disinformation on Tibet by directing the State Department’s Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues to ensure that U.S. government statements and documents counter disinformation about Tibet from PRC officials, including disinformation about the history of Tibet, the Tibetan people, and Tibetan institutions including that of the Dalai Lama, authorizing existing funding under the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018 to counter disinformation about Tibet, and requiring the annual Report on Tibet Negotiations report to Congress on the Executive Branch’s activities to counter disinformation about Tibet.
Representative McGovern is Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee and a member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. Representative McCaul is Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Senator Merkley is the co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Young is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.