The US Congress continued its steady support for Tibet through the provision of more than $25 million for Tibet-related programs in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (H.R. 133).

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate approved the legislation on Dec. 21, 2020 and it is before President Trump to be signed into law.

“Through this legislation the United States Congress once again confirms its decades-long support for Tibetans’ efforts to preserve their culture and identity,” said Matteo Mecacci, president of the International Campaign for Tibet. “We particularly appreciate that these sources of funding have now been formalized in the Tibetan Policy and Support Act that Congress passed together with the spending bill.

“While these programs are but a minuscule part of the overall foreign aid budget, this investment yields big dividends for Tibetans and their efforts to preserve their culture and identity.”

Tibetan programs

The bill funds the following programs:

  • Grants to non-governmental organizations to support activities which preserve cultural traditions and promote sustainable development, education, and environmental conservation in Tibet (not less than $8 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 (not less than $6 million)
  • Programs to strengthen the capacity of the Central Tibetan Administration (not less than $3 million)
  • Funding for the Tibetan Scholarship Program for students from the Indian subcontinent to study in the US ($675,000)
  • Funding for Ngawang Choephel Fellows program, which offers Tibetans in Tibet and Americans opportunities to share professional business and/or managerial skills ($575,000)
  • Funding for the office of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues at the State Department ($1 million)
  • Funding for broadcasting in Tibetan by Radio Free Asia ($4,060,000) and Voice of America ($3,344,000)
  • Traditionally funding has also been made available for humanitarian assistance for Tibetan refugees
  • This year, Congress also referred to another initiative on Tibet, a digital library and archive for Tibetan cultural resources. The bill says, “Funds made available by the Act for assistance for Tibet shall be made available to establish and maintain a digital library and archive for Tibetan cultural resources, following consultation with the Committees on Appropriations.”

Background

Since 1988, Congress has initiated and funded several US government programs that benefit Tibetans in exile and inside Tibet through humanitarian assistance, economic development, educational assistance, democratic governance, and other efforts. These programs are annually a part of the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which Congress incorporated into the larger omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act 2020.

ICT has been advocating for Congress to support the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people’s efforts to preserve their culture, identity and traditions threatened by the oppressive policies of the Chinese government.

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