Merkley, Young, Leahy Introduce Legislation to Solidify U.S. Position Regarding the Tibet-China Conflict

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, along with Senators Todd Young (R-IN), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), today teamed up to introduce bipartisan legislation aimed at promoting a resolution to the ongoing Tibet-China conflict. The legislation reaffirms Tibetans’ right to self-determination as a people and clarifies that current Chinese government refusal to engage in meaningful negotiations over the unresolved conflict fails to meet U.S. government expectations.

“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.”

“The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) aggression towards Tibet is self-serving, with negotiations 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,” said Senator Young. “This bill demonstrates America’s resolve that the CCP’s status quo – both in Tibet and elsewhere – is not acceptable.”

“The Tibetan people, who have sought nothing more than good faith negotiations to resolve Tibet’s political status, have long been subjected to brutal persecution and their culture relentlessly attacked by the Chinese Government,” said Senator Leahy. “This bill reaffirms that Tibet has never been part of China, and that U.S. support for the right of the Tibetan people to self-determination is unwavering.”

The Chinese government’s human rights violations in Tibet have continued despite international calls to negotiate a meaningful, lasting, and peaceful resolution. The Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act will help to clarify America’s position that it considers the People’s Republic of China’s rule in Tibet as unresolved in the absence of an agreement with Tibetan leadership based on negotiation, not subjugation.

The Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act will:

  • Make it official U.S. policy that the conflict between Tibet and China is unresolved and that Tibet’s legal status remains to be determined under international law.
  • Recognize that Tibetans have a right to self-determination—and that China’s policies preclude them from exercising that right.
  • Fault China for failing to meet expectations of participating in dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives.
  • Reject as “historically false” China’s claim that Tibet has been part of China since ancient times.
  • Empower the Office of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues to counter Communist Party disinformation about the history of Tibet, the Tibetan people, and Tibetan institutions, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

“The fact that this bill has now been introduced on a bipartisan, bicameral basis demonstrates the American people’s broad support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan cause. The people of the United States want justice and human rights in Tibet, and the Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act is a vital step toward achieving that goal through peaceful dialogue between the two sides. ICT thanks Sens. Merkley, Young and Leahy for their leadership in introducing the bill today, and we look forward to working with them to make this bill law,” The International Campaign for Tibet said.

This bill is the Senate companion bill to H.R. 8365, introduced in the House by Jim McGovern (D-MA-02) and Michael McCaul (R-TX-10).

Bill text can be found here.