The United States Senate unanimously passed the bipartisan Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act today, May 23, 2024.

Also known as the Resolve Tibet Act, this bill will strengthen US efforts to push the Chinese government to resolve the longstanding Tibet-China dispute through dialogue with Tibetan leaders.

In a statement, International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) President Tencho Gyatso lauded the advance of the bill and emphasized that China must resume dialogue with the Tibetans, saying, “I hope Beijing will now see that this dispute must be resolved through negotiation, instead of an assault on Tibet’s unique and ancient civilization.”

Steady advance through Congress

The House version of the Resolve Tibet Act was passed earlier this year with overwhelming bipartisan support. Although additional procedural hurdles remain, passing the Senate is a crucial step forward for the bill.

This day arrived following ongoing advocacy efforts ICT, the Office of Tibet, Tibetan Associations around the country, and other prominent Tibet groups that included postcard campaigns to members of Congress, letters from Tibetan Associations to their elected representatives, and numerous grassroots efforts by Tibet support groups including a record-breaking turnout at the 2024 Tibet Lobby Day, organized by ICT.

After 65 years of Chinese occupation, Tibet’s global freedom score has now dropped all the way to zero, watchdog group Freedom House says in a recent report.

Quotes from Congress members and Tibetan leaders

International Campaign for Tibet President Tencho Gyatso said: “Today’s Senate action is an indication that American support of Tibet will never waver. The Resolve Tibet Act is crystal clear; it is incumbent on China to resume dialogue, and the United States will not accept China’s disinformation about Tibet, particularly when it concerns the historical status of Tibet. I thank Senator Merkley and Senator Young for their dedication to the cause of freedom and justice for Tibetans, and I hope Beijing will now see that this dispute must be resolved through negotiation instead of an assault on Tibet’s unique and ancient civilization.”

Senator Jeff Merkley, D-OR, said: “All peoples around the world have inalienable rights to freedom and self-determination, including the Tibetans. Our bipartisan, bicameral Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act is a direct response to the tactics of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which continues to trample on the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people. The bill supports a peaceful resolution to the ongoing dispute between the PRC and Tibet and counters disinformation from the PRC about Tibet and its history. It now heads back to the House, and we will work to get it to President Biden’s desk to help put the people of Tibet in charge of their own future.”

Senator Todd Young, R-IN, said: “The Chinese Communist Party’s aggression towards Tibet is self-serving, with negotiations and even the very definition of Tibet on the CCP’s terms. We must refresh U.S. policy towards Tibet, and push for negotiations that advance freedoms for the Tibetan people and peaceful resolution to the CCP’s conflict with the Dalai Lama. The Senate’s vote to pass this legislation demonstrates America’s resolve that the CCP’s status quo – both in Tibet and elsewhere – is not acceptable.”

Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration to North America Namgyal Choedup said: “Senate passage of the Resolve Tibet Act is a clear message that China’s systematic oppression and erasure of Tibetan identity is never the answer to resolving the Tibet-China dispute. The Central Tibet Administration remains fully committed to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s vision of a Middle Way to find a mutually beneficial and long-lasting negotiated solution to the Tibet-China dispute. We are grateful for Senator Merkley and Senator Young’s leadership in showing that America will not concede to China’s false claims and refusal to follow international law. Until China comes back to the negotiating table in good faith, the Tibetan people will never abandon hope and will remain resilient in their non-violent resistance. Ending the Tibet-China dispute is within grasp—if China is willing to abandon lies for truth.”

What the bill does

The Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act states that it is US policy that the dispute between Tibet and China remains unresolved in accordance with international law.

The legislation also:

  • Empowers the Special Coordinator for Tibet to actively and directly counter disinformation about Tibet from the Chinese government and Communist Party, including working to ensure that US government statements and documents counter disinformation about Tibet.
  • Rejects as “inaccurate” China’s false claims that Tibet has been part of China since “ancient times.”
  • Promotes substantive dialogue without preconditions between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives or the democratically elected leaders of the Tibetan community. The US could also explore activities to improve prospects for dialogue leading to a negotiated agreement on Tibet.
  • Affirms the State Department ‘s responsibility to coordinate with other governments in multilateral efforts toward the goal of a negotiated agreement on Tibet.
  • Encourages China’s government to address the aspirations of the Tibetan people regarding their distinct historical, cultural, religious and linguistic identity.

Learn more about the Resolve Tibet Act.