The International Campaign for Tibet applauds the passage of the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018 (S.2736) by the United States Congress. The Act was signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 31, 2018 and includes a reference to Tibet.

The Act, known as ARIA, aims to “develop a long-term strategic vision and a comprehensive, multifaceted, and principled United States policy for the Indo-Pacific region.” It says, “The United States has a fundamental interest in defending human rights and promoting the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific region.”

The Act includes a reference to supporting “activities preserving cultural traditions and promoting sustainable development, education, and environmental conservation in Tibetan communities” in the region. The Act expresses grave concerns with Chinese actions that seek to further constrain space for civil society within China and to undermine a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.

Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) were the lead sponsors of the Act.

“Our nation took a huge step to ensure the United States remains the pre-eminent Pacific power – and primary supporter of the international order – for generations to come,” said Sens. Gardner and Markey. “We are proud that our legislation to establish a long-term strategy in Asia has been signed into law. ARIA allows the United States government to speak with one voice to advance our nation’s national security and economic interests in the Indo-Pacific by establishing forward-looking policies, authorizing additional resources to strengthen our alliances and partnerships in the region, and speaking with moral clarity on fundamental American values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. ARIA ensures that the US will continue to support Tibet by authorizing funds for Tibet-related programs and by highlighting Chinese human rights abuses against the Tibetan people.”

“This Act rightly places the issue of Tibet within the parameters of US security interests. Tibet occupies an Asian fault zone of clashing cultures and big-power politics,” said Matteo Mecacci, president of the International Campaign for Tibet.

“A stable Tibet where the rule of law and basic freedoms are respected would contribute greatly to peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, and the Trump administration should take that into consideration while working for a durable and lasting solution to the Tibet issue,” Mecacci added.

Following is the relevant reference to Tibet in the Act.

(a) Promotion of Democracy in the Indo-Pacific Region.–
(1) In general.–There is authorized to be appropriated $210,000,000, for each of the fiscal years 2019 through 2023, to promote democracy, strengthen civil society, human rights, rule of law, transparency, and accountability in the Indo- Pacific region, including for universities, civil society, and multilateral institutions that are focusing on education awareness, training, and capacity building.

(2) Democracy in china.–Amounts appropriated pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be made available for United States Government efforts, led by the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, to promote democracy, the rule of law, and human rights in the People’s Republic of China.

(3) Tibet.–Amounts appropriated pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be made available for nongovernmental organizations to support activities preserving cultural traditions and promoting sustainable development, education, and environmental conservation in Tibetan communities in the Tibet Autonomous Region and in other Tibetan communities in China, India, and Nepal.