(CNN)Lawmakers in the House approved a bill Tuesday afternoon to update the 2002 Tibetan Policy Act, the latest in a series of congressional moves to strengthen America’s stance towards China.

The Tibet Policy and Support Act, introduced by Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, alongside a bipartisan roster of cosponsors, passed with an overwhelming vote of 392-22.

The legislation would establish as US policy that the succession of Tibetan Buddhist leaders, including a future 15th Dalai Lama, be left solely to the Tibetan Buddhist community, without interference from the Chinese government.

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.”

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, this authorized spending includes funding for a variety of programs, including efforts to preserve Tibetan language and culture, strengthen Tibetan governance and institutions, and promote sustainable development, education, and conservation, as well as scholarships for Tibetan students.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has sponsored the Senate version of the legislation, but it has not received a vote in that chamber yet.

In this divided Congress, few matters receive the same sort of broad and consistent support as efforts to address human rights and national security concerns in China.

The House voted in November to pass the high-profile Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, legislation supporting protesters in the special administrative region. They also approved a bill to block crowd control exports to the Hong Kong police force, citing instances of police brutality and crackdowns during the protests. The bills were later signed into law by President Donald Trump.

In December, the House passed the UIGHUR Act, a bill to condemn the Chinese government for its mass internment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. It would enable Magnitsky sanctions on Chinese officials deemed responsible for the concentration camps and would require the State Department to assemble a report on human rights abuses in the region. The Senate had previously passed its own version of the bill, Rubio’s Uighur Human Rights Policy Act.

Senators had hoped to approve the House-passed version of the bill by the end of 2019, but technical changes on some of the sanctions provisions were needed, Sen. Jim Risch, an Idaho Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations committee, told CNN at the time.

The two chambers have yet to reconcile the differences between the measures. Risch had no update on the bill when CNN asked about it on Monday.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Turkey begins Jamal Khashoggi trial without Saudi suspects

Witnesses provided new details about what might have happened to the body of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as his trial got under way in Istanbul on Friday. One spoke of a group of strange men who refused to let him near…

Gazza’s goal, Three Lions … and penalties

The decision of ITV to replay Euro 96 in full, starting on Monday, is fraught with risk. They say you should never meet your heroes, and the same might apply to legendary sporting events. In this case even those who…

Don’t visit your parents on Mother’s Day, Boris Johnson tells Britons, as NHS nears Italy-style breaking point

London (CNN)British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged people in the UK not to visit their parents on Sunday, warning that Britain’s health care system risks becoming overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic in the coming weeks. Sunday is Mother’s Day…

US urges Beijing to release outspoken Chinese law professor Xu Zhangrun

Academic at Tsinghua University has been vocal critic of Communist Party leaders Xu’s friends say he was taken from his house by police officers, who also searched the site and confiscated his computer The United States on Tuesday said it…