Less than a week after the US Senate unanimously passed the Tibetan Policy and Support Act (TPSA) of 2020 despite China’s protest, President Donald Trump has signed it into law, a decision that strengthened the American policy on Tibet and reaffirmed the government’s steadfast support for the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration.
The US Congress had approved of the omnibus spending bill, which had the TPSA attached, last week.
By calling for larger stimulus checks in the Covid-19 relief bill, Trump initially proclaimed he would not sign the omnibus spending bill until larger checks were made available for Americans.
However, to avoid a government shutdown, Trump signed the spending bill.
Welcoming the historic legislation, CTA President Lobsang Sangay said on Monday: “This legislation sends a powerful message of hope and justice to the Tibetans inside Tibet and bolsters US support for the protection of Tibetan people’s religious freedom, human rights, environmental rights and exile Tibetan democracy like never before.
“On behalf of the CTA and six million Tibetans, I extend deepest gratitude to President Trump for signing the profoundly historic bill. I would also like thank once again the US Congress for passing the bill, especially the sponsors Senators Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin; and Congressmen Jim McGovern and Chris Smith for introducing in the House and Senate.
“Thanks to everyone who contributed to making this a reality.”
In a video message on Monday to Tibetans around the world, Sangay attributed the landmark legislation to the tireless efforts of the Dalai Lama, courage and resilience of six million Tibetans inside Tibet and the collective efforts of Tibetans and friends around the world.
Built on the historic Tibet Policy Act of 2002, the TPSA makes it official the US policy that decisions regarding the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama are exclusively within the authority of the current Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhist leaders and the Tibetan people.
Any interference by Chinese government officials will be met with serious sanctions and be deemed inadmissible into the US.
The bill not only enumerates the evolution of Tibetan democracy under the guidance of the Dalai Lama but also commends him for his decision to implement democratic governance and also commends the Tibetan exile community for successfully adopting a system of self-governance with democratic institutions to choose their leaders.
In a significant achievement for the Tibetan movement, the bill formally acknowledged the CTA as the legitimate institution reflecting the aspirations of the Tibetan diaspora around the world and the Sikyong as the President of the CTA.
It also strengthened funding for Tibetans inside and outside Tibet.
The TPSA also introduces new key provisions aimed at protecting the environment and water resources on the Tibetan plateau.
It recognises the importance of traditional Tibetan grassland stewardship in mitigating the negative effects of climate change in the region as opposed to the Chinese government’s forced resettlement of the Tibetan nomads.
In addition, it calls for greater international cooperation to monitor the environment on the Tibetan plateau.
American citizens and companies engaged in business activities in Tibet are encouraged to practice corporate social responsibility and to adhere to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
The TPSA also authorises a number of appropriations for Tibet and Tibetan related issues, including (not less than) $8 million for Tibetan communities in the Tibet Autonomous Region and in other Tibetan communities in China; $6 million for Tibetan communities in India and Nepal; $3 million to strengthen the capacity of Tibetan institutions and governance in exile; over $3.4 million and $4 million respectively for Voice of America’s and Radio Free Asia’s reporting on Tibet and Tibetans; $1 million for Office of the United States Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, among others.
Finally in order to promote access to Tibet as enumerated in the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018, the TPSA calls for the establishment of a US Consulate in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet.
Until such an establishment, the bill calls upon the Secretary of State to not authorise any new Chinese consulate in the US.
The Dalai Lama has lived in India since fleeing his homeland in 1959.
The Tibetan exile administration is based in Dharamsala.