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US Members of Congress promote new 'access to Tibet' legislation

July 21, 2014

July 17, 2014 - A US congressman from Pennsylvania who earlier co-sponsored the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act with Jim McGovern (D-MA) last month has urged China to allow free access to Tibet. McGovern has scheduled a news conference for Monday July 21 to discuss the legislation.

“For over five decades now, the Chinese Communist Party has ruled Tibet harshly and has treated the Tibetan people with great disdain,” Joe Pitts (R-PA) said in the congress on Tuesday.

“The current regime says that Tibet is open to all visitors, but the truth is that actual access is highly restricted and is subject to arbitrary closures. It is difficult for tourists to access the region, and it is almost impossible for journalists and diplomats to get in to report on conditions,” he said.

“When Chinese officials get visas to the U.S., they are not kept out of certain States or cities. They are free to travel our Nation, as are Chinese tourists and reporters. It is time that the Chinese Government lives up to its word and allows access to Tibet, not only for Americans, but for the many religious pilgrims from nations around the world,” he said.

The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act is a bill to promote access to Tibet, where China has imposed travel restrictions for foreigners including international media persons.

The US State Department reported that the Chinese government denied more than 10 requests for United States diplomatic access to the Tibet Autonomous Region between May 2011 and December 2012. It added that when such requests are granted, diplomatic personnel are closely supervised and given few opportunities to meet local residents not approved by authorities.

A few visits by Congressional staff have occurred since 2008 on a tight itinerary controlled by government minders, said International Campaign for Tibet last month.

In October 2013, U.S. consular officers faced prolonged delays in obtaining access to Tibet, hindering their ability to serve Americans in distress following an accident of a bus with Americans on board
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