House passes Tibet bill

Friday, January 31, 2020

Representative Jim McGovern (left) signs a card for the imprisoned
husband of Li Chingyu (right) in February 2019. McGovern
introduced legislation supporting the religious freedom
of Tibetan Buddhists to the United States Representatives.
(Photo: ChinaAid)
(Washington, D.C.—Jan. 31, 2020) The United States House of Representatives approved the Tibet Policy and Support Act Tuesday. If adopted, the legislation will support Tibetan Buddhists’ right to choose their religious leaders.

Currently, the Chinese government appoints its own leaders for the religious group, separate from the broader Tibetan Buddhist community. However, many reject these selections and instead follow the teachings of the Dalai Lama, who was placed in his position according to the tenets of the Tibetan Buddhist faith.

The Chinese Communist Party usually shows a desire to select religious leaders that are loyal to itself. In China, it is illegal to operate outside of the state-run and censored religious groups, and clergy must be appointed by the government.

The Dalai Lama and other key Tibetan Buddhist religious figures are exiled in India.

If enacted, the Act will allow the United States to sanction Chinese officials for interfering with the selection of Tibetan Buddhist leaders. It would also set aside $27 million dollars on a yearly basis between 2021-2025 for the protection of Tibetan culture, education, governance, and so on.

The bill will also require the U.S. to seek a consulate in Lhasa, Tibet.

It was introduced to the House by Representative Jim McGovern and passed 392-22 on Tuesday. Marco Rubio has prepared a Senate version of the legislation, but it has yet to be put to a vote.

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