A State Department official has dismissed as “meritless” the Chinese government’s attempts to control the succession of the Dalai Lama and has reiterated the US’ enduring support for the Tibetan people.

Alice Wells, acting assistant secretary for the department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, said on Twitter last week that “The Chinese Communist Party claim that Dalai Lama’s succession ‘must comply with Chinese laws and regulations’ is meritless.”

Wells added: “Tibetan communities, like all faith communities, should be able to select, educate, & venerate their religious leaders without government interference.”

Wells’ remarks were covered by news outlets including the Press Trust of India and the Indo-Asian News Service.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, has lived in India for the past 60 years since he was forced into exile from Tibet by Chinese forces who continue to brutally occupy the historically independent Himalayan country to this day.

Tibetan Policy and Support Act

For years, the officially atheist Chinese Communist Party has said the eventual reincarnation or succession of the Dalai Lama, now 84, must adhere to Chinese law, which mandates government approval for the reincarnation of Tibetan lamas.

To confront this absurd claim, the US Congress is considering a new bill, the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2019, which will make it official US policy that the appointment of a future Dalai Lama and other Tibetan Buddhist leaders can only be decided by the Tibetan Buddhist faith community.

The bill will also impose sanctions on any Chinese officials who try to name their own Dalai Lama in the future.

In addition, the legislation will upgrade US support for the Tibetan people, address water security and climate change in Tibet and assert the diplomatic principle of reciprocity in regard to US consular access to Tibet.

Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) introduced the bipartisan bill in September in the House of Representatives, where it now has 14 cosponsors, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced it in the Senate, where there are now seven cosponsors.

Ask your members of Congress to cosponsor the Tibetan Policy and Support Act.

US support for Tibetans, praise for India

Wells’ comments were made from the @State_SCA account. That account also retweeted Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, who said he was “inspired and deeply moved” after meeting the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India last week.

“.@IRF_Ambassador’s meeting with His Holiness in Dharamsala emphasizes enduring U.S. support for the Tibetan people,” the @State_SCA account tweeted.

The tweet also praises US ally India, which provides an exile home not only for the Dalai Lama but for the Central Tibetan Administration and tens of thousands of Tibetan refugees.

“India has greatly supported Tibetan religious freedom,” the tweet says, “and the U.S. stands in deep admiration of India’s extraordinary generosity.”