Washington DC: In a bid to counter the growing threat of China’s assertions, the US Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill in a sweeping vote of 68-32 on Tuesday.
The U.S Innovation and Competition Act (also known as the Endless Frontier Act) that allots $250 billion dollars through investments in science in order to compete against China also has several significant provisions on Tibet.
Under “SEC. 3306. POLICY WITH RESPECT TO TIBET,” the bill calls for the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues shall “either be appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, or shall be an individual holding the rank of Under Secretary of State or higher.”
The bill also calls for a Tibet Unit within the Political Section of the United States Embassy in Beijing until the US Chengdu Consulate is restored or when a US Lhasa Consulate is created. The bill mandates, “The Secretary shall assign not fewer than 2 United States direct-hire personnel to Tibet Unit and hire not fewer than 1 locally engaged member for such unit”.
In addition, it calls for language training to be made available by the Secretary to the assigned personnel.
The bill goes on to affirm sentiments of the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020 by stating that the US should encourage the Secretary of State to engage with allies to support Tibetans Buddhist leaders’ self-determination in His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation & to oppose Chinese interference.
Under “Sec. 3307. UNITED STATES POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT ON THE SUCCESSION OR REINCARNATION OF THE DALAI LAMA AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM OF TIBETAN BUDDHISTS”, the bill reaffirms the policies mentioned in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 that any “interference by the Government of the People’s Republic of China or any other government in the process of recognizing a successor or reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama and any future Dalai Lamas would represent a clear abuse of the right to religious freedom of Tibetan Buddhists and the Tibetan people’’.
The bill further calls on international efforts to protect the religious freedom of Tibetan Buddhists.
It states that, “The Secretary of State should engage with United States allies and partners to
(1) support Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders’ sole religious authority to identify and install the 15th Dalai Lama;
(2) oppose claims by the Government of the People’s Republic of China that the PRC has the authority to decide for Tibetan Buddhists the 15th Dalai Lama; and
(3) reject interference by the Government of the People’s Republic of China in the religious freedom of Tibetan Buddhists”.
– Filed by Office of Tibet, Washington DC