The US House of Representatives saw a discussion on the night of January 18, 2018 under the Special Order session that highlighted the situation in Tibet and the need to pass pending legislations relating to it as a way to China’s onslaught on American society.
The discussion was at the initiative of Representative Ted Yoho, Chairman of the Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee on House Foreign Affairs Committee. The subcommittee had organized a hearing on Tibet on December 6, 2017.
While Members of Congress wanted good relations with China the discussion saw them expressing concern at China’s increasing attempt to subvert American society. As Mr. Yoho said in his remarks, “…China has grown to become a revisionist power—not rising within the current order, but seeking to change, subvert, or coerce it to suit China’s end—not playing by the rules, but rewriting the rules to suit the needs of China.”
During the discussion, three Members of Congress – Mr. Ted Yoho (Republican from Florida), Mr. Ted Poe (Republican from Texas), and Mr. Jim McGovern (Democrat from Massachusetts) – made reference to the situation in Tibet.
Mr. Yoho highlighted the issue of lack of access to Tibet and the need for freedom to the Tibetan people to follow their religious tradition, including in the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.
Mr. McGovern spoke about Chinese interference in the physical and spiritual lives of Tibetans and the Dalai Lama’s nonviolent effort to resolve the issue of Tibet through the Middle Way Approach. He urged for the passage of H.R. 1872, the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, and H. Con. Res. 89, expressing the sense of Congress that the treatment of the Tibetan people should be an important factor in the conduct of United States relations with China. He also called for the full implementation of the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002.
Mr. Poe spoke about Chinese persecution of the Tibetan people in the context of it being an atheistic regime.
The relevant excerpts of their remarks are given below. The full proceeding of the Special Order session on China is found here.
Mr. YOHO: If we look at the Tibetan people, the Tibetan are probably one of the most peaceful populations on Earth, but yet I can’t travel there as a U.S. dignitary or as a U.S. Member of Congress. They can’t come here and be recognized. The Dalai Lama can’t come here and be recognized because China gets mad. Beijing gets mad. The Tibetan people have a way to pass on the Dalai Lama to the next generation. China kidnapped the Panchen child and said: We will replace it with who we think should be the next leader, and it is somebody they are going to groom.
Mr. McGOVERN: I have often stood on the floor of this House to call for respect for the human rights of the Tibetan people in China.
Just a few months ago the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, which I co-chair, held a hearing on the repression of religious freedom in Tibet.
Tibetan Buddhists face extensive controls on their religious life—an intrusive official presence in monasteries, pervasive surveillance, limits on travel and communications, and ideological re-education campaigns. Religious expression and activism have been met with violent repression, imprisonment and torture.
As of last August, 69 monks, nuns or Tibetan reincarnate teachers were known to be serving sentences in Chinese prisons—although the real number is likely much higher.
And the Chinese government continues to claim the prerogative to decide who will succeed His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism, who is now 82 years old.
This extreme Chinese interference in the physical and spiritual lives of Tibetans occurs even though the Tibetans seek only to fully exercise the autonomy guaranteed them by the Chinese constitution and China’s ‘‘Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy.’’ In the late 1980s the Dalai Lama proposed the Middle Way Approach as a path toward Tibetan autonomy within China, and he has pursued that path through non-violence ever since.
I urge us to start by passing two pieces of legislation on Tibet that have been introduced in the House: H.R. 1872, the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, and H. Con. Res. 89, expressing the sense of Congress that the treatment of the Tibetan people should be an important factor in the conduct of United States relations with the People’s Republic of China. I urge the full and robust implementation of the Tibet Policy Act of 2002—including the designation of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Policy, a statutory position that the Administration has yet to fill. I urge the robust use of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to sanction Chinese officials responsible for grave violations of the human rights of Tibetans, Uyghurs, and the many other loyal opposition activists who have been targeted in recent years—human rights lawyers, religious practitioners, writers, artists.
Mr. POE: So when you have an atheistic regime in charge, you can see why they persecute their own people and torture not only Christians and Muslims, but Tibetans and other people who don’t agree with their atheistic philosophy.