A bill to strengthen US efforts to get China back to the negotiating table with Tibetan leaders and combat China’s disinformation about Tibet can now move to the Senate floor after a key committee’s approval today.

The bipartisan Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act was approved at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s business meeting this morning, April 16, 2024.

The approval comes as Penpa Tsering, the exile-based Tibetan sikyong (president), is in Washington, DC for meetings with administration officials and with members of Congress to push for passage of this legislation.

Namgyal Choedup, representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration to North America, said: “Tibetans hold the US Congress in high regard and are always grateful for the support of the American people. With today’s vote, the United States is once again showing that it is the leader on the international stage when it comes to advancing the just cause of the Tibetans. We thank the members of the committee for moving the Resolve Tibet Act to the Senate floor, and we call on the Senate to pass this bill without delay.”

International Campaign for Tibet President Tencho Gyatso said: “Today’s vote shows that Congress is making it a priority to resolve China’s brutal occupation of Tibet through dialogue. We look forward to seeing this bill passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president. China needs to get back to negotiations with Tibetan leaders, and this bill will raise the diplomatic pressure on China significantly.”

About the bill

The Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act was introduced by Reps. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Todd Young, R-Ind. It passed the House on Feb. 15.

Known as the Resolve Tibet Act, the bill states that it is US policy that the dispute between Tibet and China must be resolved in accordance with international law, including the UN Charter, by peaceful means through dialogue without preconditions.

Between 2002-10, the Chinese government took part in 10 rounds of dialogue with Tibetan leaders. Since then, China has refused to negotiate in good faith.

The bill also states that the Chinese government’s disinformation claiming that Tibet has been part of China since “ancient times” is historically inaccurate.

The Resolve Tibet Act says that the US should:

  • Promote 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.
  • Coordinate with other governments in multilateral efforts toward the goal of a negotiated agreement on Tibet.
  • Encourage China’s government to address the aspirations of the Tibetan people regarding their distinct historical, cultural, religious and linguistic identity.
  • Use public diplomacy efforts to “counter disinformation about Tibet” from the Chinese government and Communist Party, including “disinformation about the history of Tibet, the Tibetan people, and Tibetan institutions including that of the Dalai Lama.”
  • Empower the State Department’s special coordinator for Tibetan issues to work to ensure that US government statements and documents counter disinformation about Tibet.

Although the Chinese government attempts to shape a narrative that Tibet is only the Tibet Autonomous Region—an administrative region that spans less than half the Tibetan homeland—this legislation makes clear that Tibet also includes Tibetan regions of Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

Read the bill.

Learn more about the Resolve Tibet Act.

About Tibet

China has occupied Tibet, a historically independent, neighboring country, for over six-and-a-half decades. This year marked the 65th anniversary of Chinese troops forcing the Dalai Lama to escape into exile in March 1959.

Under China’s rule, Tibet is now one of the worst human rights crisis zones in the world. The watchdog group Freedom House recently gave Tibet a global freedom score of 0 out of a possible 100.

Despite the Chinese government’s severe oppression, the Tibetan people continue to show remarkable resistance and resilience and have stayed committed to resolving China’s occupation of their homeland through peaceful dialogue.