The U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation that advances policy on Tibet and authorizes funding for programs that support Tibetans. The provisions were included in H.R. 2410, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011, which passed the full House by a vote of 235 to187 on June 10, 2009.
“Congress has long been the vanguard of efforts to protect the Tibetan identity in the face of Chinese government repression, and to promote a negotiated solution to the Tibet issue between Chinese leaders and the Dalai Lama,” said Todd Stein, Director of Government Relations at the International Campaign for Tibet. “The passage of this bill shows the clear intention of a new Congress in continuing the strong record of policy and programmatic support for Tibet.”
H.R. 2410 makes several improvements to the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, expands U.S. diplomatic representation in China focused on Tibet, and authorizes certain U.S. Tibet programs. Specifically, the bill:
- Promotes Tibetan-Chinese dialogue by encouraging multilateral engagement and inter-agency coordination by the National Security Council;
- Urges a U.S. consulate in Lhasa, Tibet, and authorizes a Tibet section in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing;
Authorizes grants to U.S. non-governmental organizations working on poverty alleviation, cultural preservation, and environmental protection on the Tibetan plateau;
- Authorizes scholarship and fellowship programs for Tibetans;
- Authorizes staffing in the Office of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues in the State Department; and
- Urges the Chinese government to cease interference in the reincarnation system in Tibetan Buddhism.
“On behalf of the members of the International Campaign for Tibet, I thank Chairman Howard Berman, Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and other members and staff of the committee for their attention and commitment to the Tibet issue and for including provisions that are so important to sustaining hope for a solution to Tibet in this legislation,” said Mr. Stein.
The bill now goes to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for its consideration.