The US Congress has passed a crucial bipartisan bill that seeks to impose a visa ban on Chinese officials who deny American citizens, government officials and journalists access to Tibet.
The legislation, passed by a unanimous voice vote, comes amidst the Trump administration imposing massive trade import duties on China that has started impacting the Chinese economy.
The ‘Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act’, which seeks to ensure that Americans are given the same access to Tibet that Chinese citizens have to the United States, was passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The bill, she said, is premised on the idea that reciprocity forms the basis of diplomatic law and the practice of mutual exchanges between countries. This bill simply requires that if Chinese officials, journalists and other citizens are able to travel freely in the US, then it’s only fair that their American counterparts are also able to do the same.
“If Americans are not granted the same access to Tibet that the Chinese enjoy in the United States, then there should be consequences. This is more than reasonable and long overdue,” Jayapal said.
The Congress is sending a true signal that the US has indeed not forgotten about the people of Tibet, that Congress will not accept Beijing’s bullying and intimidation and that the US lawmakers will stand up for human rights for the people of Tibet, she said.
US diplomats and journalists must obtain permission to enter the Tibet Autonomous region, he alleged.
“Under this bill, Chinese authorities who are involved in the design and implementation of policies that restrict travel to Tibetan areas become ineligible to receive a visa or be admitted to the United States. This is a victory for human rights of Tibetans and Americans,” McGovern said.
Speaking in support of the bill, Democratic leader Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi asserted that the issue of reciprocity is not only a human rights issue, but is also a practical matter. It is very important for the US to have a diplomatic presence in Lhasa. The bill, she said, takes an important step to advance freedom, dignity and prosperity for the Tibetan people.
The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act includes a national security waiver, and would require the US Secretary of State to submit to Congress an assessment of the level of access to Tibet granted to American government officials, journalists, and tourists by Chinese officials.
If the secretary determines that there are restrictions on travel to Tibet, the appropriate Chinese officials will be ineligible to enter the US.