US Congress members urge for meeting between Biden, Dalai Lama

US Congress members urge for meeting between Biden, Dalai Lama

WASHINGTON: The Biden administration’s presumptive Tibet coordinator should push for a meeting between US President Joe Biden and the Dalai Lama, fully implement US laws on Tibet, end the practice of calling Tibet part of China and more, over 60 members of the US Congress said in new Senate and House bipartisan letters on Tuesday.

The letters to Under Secretary of State Uzra Zeya are the latest sign of Congress’ intensifying interest in Tibet, a historically independent country that the Chinese government has brutally occupied for over 60 years. Zeya’s appointment as special coordinator for Tibetan issues in the State Department is expected soon.
“These letters provide a vital framework for the next special coordinator to address China’s oppression in Tibet while making it clear that Congress expects the Biden administration to act quickly and meaningfully to support the Tibetan people,” said Franz Matzner, government relations director of the International Campaign for Tibet, an advocacy group with offices in Washington, DC and Europe.

“At a time when Freedom House has declared Tibet the least-free country on Earth alongside Syria, ICT thanks the 38 senators and 27 representatives who signed onto these letters and showed crucial leadership on the Tibetan issue. We look forward to working with the next special coordinator and encourage her to use these letters to advance US policy on Tibet,” Matzner added.

Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in the Senate and Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Chris Smith, R-NJ, in the House led the letters. The broad, diverse and bipartisan swath of signers demonstrated once again Congress’ steadfast support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, religious freedom and basic human rights.

Zeya currently serves as undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights–a position that has traditionally doubled as the special coordinator. The Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 mandates the appointment of the special coordinator.

The letters to Zeya list 10 areas where Congress and the Biden administration can work together on Tibet, including:

The letter urges the administration to engage with the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration, which provides democratic governance for Tibetans in exile. The letters suggest that President Biden invite the Dalai Lama to the Oval Office–as several of his predecessors have done–or meet with him in his exile home of India, among other options.

It also suggests resisting China’s attempts to interfere in the Dalai Lama’s succession. The Chinese government plans to appoint its own successor to the 86-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader, but the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020 states that only the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Buddhist community can decide on his succession. The letters urge the administration to “work with like-minded governments” to “affirm this principle as the international norm,” as the TPSA requires. (ANI) 

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