New Delhi (NVI): US President Donald Trump has signed a bill that authorises US sanctions on Chinese officials if they interfere in the selection of next Dalai Lama by Tibetan Buddhists’, a move that has irked China.
Trump signed the act as part of the massive USD 2.3 trillion package for the year-end bill to provide long-delayed coronavirus relief and fund the federal government.
The US senate last week unanimously passed the bill despite China’s protest. Beijing asserts that its approval is a must for choosing the successor to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
According to the Central Tibetan Administration, the move has dramatically strengthened US policy on Tibet and reaffirmed the US government’s steadfast support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the CTA.
CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay welcomes the legislation. “This legislation sends a powerful message of hope and justice to the Tibetans inside Tibet and bolsters US support for the protection of Tibetan people’s religious freedom, human rights, environmental rights and exile Tibetan democracy like never before,” he said.
“On behalf of the CTA and six million Tibetans, I extend deepest gratitude to President Trump for signing the profoundly historic bill. I would also like thank once again the US Congress for passing the bill, especially House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her steadfast support in making this historic bill come true. I also thank the bill sponsors Senators Marco
Rubio and Ben Cardin; and Congressmen Jim McGovern and Chris Smith for introducing in the House and Senate. Thanks to everyone who contributed to making this a reality,” Lobsang Sangay added.
In a video message to Tibetans around the world, he attributed the landmark legislation to the tireless efforts of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, courage and resilience of six million Tibetans inside Tibet and the collective efforts of Tibetans and friends around the world.
Meamwhile, the Chinese foreign ministry firmly rejected the US legislation and said that “Tibet-related issues are domestic affairs”.
The legislation signed by Trump calls for the establishment of a US consulate in Tibet’s main city of Lhasa. It also asserts the absolute right of Tibetans to choose a successor to the 14th Dalai Lama and the preservation of Tibet’s environment.
Built on the historic Tibet Policy Act of 2002, the TPSA (Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020) makes it official United States policy that decisions regarding the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama are exclusively within the authority of the current Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhist leaders and the Tibetan people. Any interference by Chinese government officials will be met with serious sanctions and be deemed inadmissible into the United States, according to the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).
“It is the policy of the United States to take all appropriate measures to hold accountable senior officials of the Government of the People’s Republic of China or the Chinese Communist Party who directly interfere with the identification and installation of the future 15th Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism, successor to the 14th Dalai Lama,” as per the Statement of Policy regarding the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.
With Trump signing the bill, the US will try to build pressure on China to patiently wait and allow the 14th Dalai Lama to identify his reincarnation, and not impose its own choice.
Notably, after escaping from Tibet when it was invaded by the Chinese in 1950, the Dalai Lama had taken shelter in India in April 1959 and thousands of Tibetans followed him in the Himalayan town of Himachal’s Dharamshala where he has been living in exile since then. As per an estimate, over 80,000 Tibetans are living in exile in India.