As part of the implementation of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, the State Department today released to the US Congress its second annual report assessing the level of access to Tibet granted to US citizens. The report covers the year 2019.

The report confirmed, as last year’s did, that the Chinese government “systematically impeded travel to the [Tibet] Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan areas outside the TAR for U.S. diplomats and officials, journalists, and tourists in 2019.”

The report also went a long way in describing concrete examples of the systematic restrictions and discrimination suffered by US citizens while trying to visit the TAR or other Tibetan areas, whether they were diplomats, journalists, tourists or US citizens of Tibetan heritage.

Sanctioning Chinese officials

According to RATA this report represents the basis for the sanctioning of Chinese officials by the State Department, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on July 7.

Despite the Chinese government keeping secret the names of the officials who deny Americans access to Tibet, the State Department report identifies, reportedly, the entities that are involved in decision-making on official US visits to the TAR.

The report states that, “Once the TAR government received the request, it reportedly informed a foreign affairs leading committee, consisting of representatives at the prefectural, provincial, and central levels from the United Front Work Department, Ministry of State Security, Ministry of Public Security, People’s Liberation Army, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

Quote by Matteo Mecacci, president of the International Campaign for Tibet:

“The State Department report on access to Tibet confirms that the Chinese government continues to impede and impose tight restrictions for access to the Tibet Autonomous Region, in violation of the principle of reciprocity among countries. The TAR is the only region of China that requires a special permit for foreign citizens to travel there, while no such restrictions are imposed for Chinese citizens in the United States or other democratic countries. This is not acceptable.”

“The isolation of Tibet from the outside world is part of the Chinese government’s strategy to hide the reality in which the Tibetan people have been forced to live under the oppressive rule of the Chinese Communist Party since the 1950s with no civil, political and human rights.

“The role of entities such as the United Front Work Department and the Ministry of Public Security in imposing repressive policies in Tibet is well known to Tibetan Americans, and denying official permits to US diplomats and others has been their practice for a long time. It is therefore important that they are not allowed to operate in secret anymore, as the officials responsible for denying access to US citizens are now denied access to the United States.”