The 2021 Annual Report of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, released on March 31, says the Chinese Communist Party continues to repress the religious practices of Tibetans amid other serious violations of human rights.

The report states that contrary to Tibetan Buddhist practice and teachings, the Chinese government continued to insist on its own authority to select the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. The current Dalai Lama has been labeled a security threat, and Tibetans who expressing reverence for him are punished. Further, Chinese authorities enforced heavy restrictions on communications into and out of Tibetan areas, with particularly harshly treatment for those who corresponded with Tibetans living outside China.

The report also emphasized the increasingly iron-clad surveillance of Tibetans, including U.S. citizens. It noted the development and deployment of advanced technology, including forays into DNA data collection, and the export of such measures globally “enabling other authoritarian states.”

As well, the report documented ongoing air and water pollution, underscoring the contribution of existing dams to regional water scarcity and the potential for more projects “to contribute to flooding, drought, lack of access to freshwater, destruction of fish populations, and loss of sediment in South and Southeast Asian countries.”

CECC issues recommendations

The report calls on the Biden Administration to use the tools available in the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020 to help protect Tibetan culture and identity and Tibet’s religious and linguistic diversity from efforts to dilute or destroy them, including through sustained diplomatic efforts to curtail interference in the selection of Tibetan religious leaders and a future 15th Dalai Lama.

The CECC also recommended that the Administration and Congress ask the Chinese government to allow representatives of the international organizations to meet with the missing 11th Panchen Lama who was taken away by Chinese authorities shortly after being recognized by the Dalai Lama.

Similarly, it said the Administration should implement the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act by issuing robust annual reports, and sanctions for officials responsible for closing off access to Tibetan areas to diplomats, journalists, academics, and tourists, while members of Congress should encourage parliamentarian colleagues globally to pass legislation seeking greater access to Tibet.

Another recommendation is that members of Congress and Administration officials should interact regularly with the leaders of the Central Tibetan Administration and with parliamentarians globally to build international coalitions to protect Tibetan human rights.

Statements

“The Chinese government’s horrific abuse of human rights and trampling of human dignity make it more important than ever that the Congressional-Executive Commission on China document abuses of human rights and the rule of law in China, as the Commission has done for the past 20 years,” said CECC Chairman Merkley, in a statement while releasing the report.

Cochair McGovern added, “I commend the hard work and expertise of the Commission’s staff in monitoring and reporting on trends in China, from the horrific genocide against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, to the repression in Tibet and eradication of democracy in Hong Kong…”

“It is no secret the Xi Jinping regime has embraced an ever more authoritarian agenda directly opposed to the values of democracy, rule of law, and human rights. In Tibet, brutal oppression and intense surveillance continue the CCP’s systematic work to erase Tibetan culture, religious freedom, and basic human rights,” said Franz Matzner, director of government relations for ICT. Matzner went on to add “The CECC report confirms that Tibet remains a bellwether in the fight to halt the spread of authoritarianism. The international community must unite in the name of religious freedom, human rights and global security.”

The full text of the report can be read here.

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