Co-Chairs Applaud Final Passage of Bipartisan Bill to Hold China Accountable for Limiting Access to Tibet
Washington. D.C - Today, U.S. Congressmen James McGovern (D-MA) and Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, along with U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) applauded final passage in the Senate of their bipartisan bill – H.R. 1872, the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act.
The bill denies Chinese government officials access to the United States if they are responsible for creating or implementing restrictions on American government officials, journalists, independent observers and tourists seeking access to Tibet.
“Our foreign policy ought to send the message that we stand for human rights. That we stand with those whose culture and religious freedom are oppressed. And that our values compel us to speak out when we see something that’s wrong,” said Congressman McGovern. “Once this bill is signed into law by the President, there will be real consequences for the Chinese officials who systematically violate the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people. If these officials want to visit the United States, they must allow reciprocal access to Tibet.”
“The Chinese government has sought to hide their ongoing destruction of the culture, language and religion of the Tibetan people from the international community, including outside government officials and journalists, while their own officials and citizens enjoy unfettered access to the United States. This legislation helps to level the playing field for those Chinese government officials responsible for barring entry to the Tibetan region and is a step toward a freer exchange of information for the Tibetan people,” said Congressman Hultgren.
“If the Chinese government stands by its ‘nothing to see here’ rhetoric about Tibet, then it should allow U.S. government officials, journalists and citizens to visit,” said Senator Baldwin. “Access to Tibet is blocked precisely because of China’s widespread human rights violations there, including official oppression of Tibetans’ religious freedom, culture, language and autonomy. Chinese officials responsible for violations of democratic principles—and for hiding them through restricting U.S. citizen travel—should not expect to travel freely in the United States—a country founded on those very principles. I’m glad to see this commonsense, bipartisan legislation pass Congress and I look forward to seeing it signed into law.”
“China’s repression in Tibet includes keeping out those who can shine a light on its human rights abuses against the Tibetan people,” said Senator Rubio. “We should not accept a double standard where Chinese officials can freely visit the United States while at the same time blocking our diplomats, journalists and Tibetan-Americans from visiting Tibet. I look forward to President Trump signing this bill into law that will help to restore some measure of reciprocity to America’s relationship with China.”
The bill passed the House of Representatives in September, and will become law once signed by President Donald J. Trump.
It includes a national security waiver, and would require the Secretary of State to submit an assessment to Congress of the level of access to Tibet granted to American government officials, journalists, and tourists by Chinese officials. If the secretary determines that there are restrictions on travel to Tibet, the appropriate Chinese officials will be ineligible to enter the United States.