The government funding bill that Congress passed and President Biden signed into law on Dec. 29 includes over $20 million for Tibet-related programs for fiscal year 2023, reaffirming the United States’ continued commitment to the Tibetan people.

“The US has once again shown its broad, bipartisan support for the Tibetan people and their just cause by acting on its commitment to support the preservation and promotion of Tibetan culture and identity,” said the International Campaign for Tibet, an advocacy group that promotes human rights and democratic freedoms for Tibetans.

“ICT thanks Congress and the administration and looks forward to working with policymakers in the new year to continue pushing for a peaceful resolution to the Tibetan issue.”

What the legislation does on Tibet

The funding bill includes several provisions offering support to the Tibetan people, including:

  • Funding for the office of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues in the State Department ($1 million)
  • Grants to nongovernmental organizations with experience working with Tibetan communities to support activities that preserve cultural traditions and promote sustainable development, education and environmental conservation in Tibet (not less than $10 million)
  • Programs to promote and preserve Tibetan culture and language in the refugee and diaspora Tibetan communities; development; and the resilience of Tibetan communities and the Central Tibetan Administration in India and Nepal; and to assist in the education and development of the next generation of Tibetan leaders from such communities (not less than $8 million)
  • Programs to strengthen the capacity of the Central Tibetan Administration (not less than $3 million)

On the usage of the funding, the bill says, “Funds made available by the Act shall not be used to produce or disseminate documents, reports, maps, or other materials that recognize, identify, or otherwise refer to Tibet, including the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan autonomous counties and prefectures, as part of the [People’s Republic of China], until the Secretary of State reports to the appropriate congressional committees that the Government of the PRC has reached a final negotiated agreement on Tibet with the Dalai Lama or his representatives or with democratically-elected leaders of the Tibetan people.”

As funding for some of the programs for the Tibetan refugee community is provided through USAID, the bill also says, “USAID should consider supporting a project to provide housing for Tibetan refugee families in India.”

Tibet-China conflict resolution

US administrations and Congress members from both parties have shown consistent, bipartisan support for Tibet over many decades.

On Dec. 20, bipartisan legislation called the Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Conflict Act was introduced in the US Senate by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Todd Young, R-Ind., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. The bill was introduced in the House on July 13 by Reps. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Michael McCaul, R-Texas.

Known as the Resolve Tibet Act, the bill will push for a peaceful resolution to China’s decades-long, illegal occupation of Tibet through negotiations between the Chinese government and the envoys of the Dalai Lama.

The bill will also recognize that Tibet’s legal status remains to be determined under international law and fault the Chinese government for violating the Tibetan people’s right to self-determination.

China has illegally occupied Tibet for over 60 years. As a result of the Chinese government’s extreme human rights abuses, Tibet is now the least-free country on Earth alongside South Sudan and Syria, according to the watchdog group Freedom House.