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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

US House approves Bill to establish US Consulate in Tibet

June 13, 2009

By Phurbu Thinley

Phayul

Friday, June 12, 2009

 

 

Dharamsala, June 12: US House of representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that further advances US policy on Tibet and authorizes its funding for wide-ranging programs that support Tibetans in Tibet.

 

The bill makes several improvements to an already existing Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 and directs the US government to encourage the Tibetan-Chinese dialogue by coordinating with other governments in multilateral efforts in order to reach a negotiated agreement on Tibet.

 

The bill further directs the US government to require the National Security Council (NSC) to ensure that U.S. policy on Tibet is coordinated with all executive agencies in contact with the Chinese government.

 

It also authorizes the establishment of a Tibet Section within the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, until such time as a U.S. consulate in Tibet is established. It further directs the government to seek to establish a U.S. consulate in Tibet’s Capital Lhasa.

 

The Bill requires the US Consulate in Lhasa to “provide services to United States citizens traveling to Tibet and to monitor political, economic, and cultural developments in Tibet, including Tibetan areas of Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan provinces.”

 

The new provisions were included in “H.R. 2410: the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011”, which passed the full House by a vote of 235 to187 on June 10, 2009, a move that could further irate China.

 

When the bill was formally introduced in the house on May 14, it drew angry responce from China accusing the United States of meddling in its internal affairs. At a regular press conference in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu went on to ask U.S. to “delete China-related sections” in the bill to avoid damaging bilateral relations between the two nations.

 

Among others that angered China, the US foreign relations bill authorizes scholarship and fellowship programs for Tibetans, and allocates money to protect Tibetan Culture and history, to support economic development, environmental protection, education and heaths care services in Tibet.

 

The Bill also asks China to cease “all interferences" in the religious affairs of the Tibetan people, including the reincarnation system of Tibetan Buddhism.

 

“Congress has long been the vanguard of efforts to protect the Tibetan identity in the face of Chinese government repression, and to promote a negotiated solution to the Tibet issue between Chinese leaders and the Dalai Lama,” Todd Stein, Director of Government Relations at the International Campaign for Tibet, says in a report on its website.

 

“The passage of this bill shows the clear intention of a new Congress in continuing the strong record of policy and programmatic support for Tibet,” Stein adds.

 

The bill now goes to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for its consideration.

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