Thu, 25 Feb 2021

Amsterdam, [Netherlands], January 17 (ANI): The Tibetan Policy and Support Act (TPSA), which was recently adopted by the United States, is a major upgrade to American policy on Tibet and represents a direct challenge to China's continuing repression of people of the region, a European think tank said.

In a commentary, the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) said the TPSA could, in the event of China preferring strife over cordiality, provide a template and options for India to examine and expand upon in its future dealings with the communist dragon.

Introduced with bipartisan support in the US House by Representatives James McGovern and Chris Smith, and by Senators Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin, the TPSA seeks to build on the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002.

The International Campaign for Tibet, one of the most active organizations espousing the Tibetan cause, believes that "The bipartisan TPSA will launch a new era in US policy on Tibet, a historically independent country in Central Asia that has become one of the least free places on Earth under the repressive rule of the Chinese government".

The TPSA makes it official US policy that the selection of Tibetan Buddhist leaders, including a future Dalai Lama, should follow the instructions of the 85-year-old current Dalai Lama and the desires of the Tibetan Buddhist community, with no interference from the Chinese government.

The US will sanction Chinese officials if they carry out their plans to appoint their own Dalai Lama in the future. These sanctions could include having their assets frozen and their entry to the US denied.

The State Department will also have to work at the international level to build support for Tibetan Buddhists' freedom to choose their own leaders without government interference, according to the think tank.

The Chinese Communist Party, which insists that it must approve the Dalai Lama's reincarnation, had introduced new rules in 2007 for the selection and appointment of reincarnate lamas, giving the government authority over the entire process.

Highlighting the need for a US diplomatic presence in Tibet, the act mandates that the Secretary of State "not authorise the establishment in the United States of any additional consulate of the People's Republic of China until such time as a United States consulate in Lhasa, Tibet, is established".

In July, China had forced the US to close its consulate in Chengdu, which serves as a major gateway to Tibet, after the US forced the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston.

"A major upgrade to US policy on Tibet, the TPSA represents a direct challenge to China's continuing repression of the Tibetan people. India, which shares a long border with Tibet along a section of which its military has locked horns with China for several months now, would view the TPSA as welcome legislation," the commentary read.

"Although India has thus far consciously kept Tibet off the table in the expectation that a measured approach overall would help in resolving the border standoff, China has remained intransigent. The TPSA could, in the event of China preferring strife over cordiality, provide a template and options for India to examine and expand upon in its future dealings with the communist dragon," it added.

The passage of the TSPA also has a message for other responsible democracies across the world, the think tank noted.

Over the past year, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has said the EU opposes any interference in the Dalai Lama's succession by the Chinese government. Officials in Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands have expressed similar positions.

"The passage of the TSPA also has a message for other responsible democracies across the world. Till now, most other democracies that profess liberal values and respect for human rights have limited themselves to periodically and passingly mentioning the Tibet issue to visiting Chinese delegations. It would be worth watching whether a few such democracies take the cue from the US and acknowledge the sufferings of the Tibetans more substantially. After all, respect for human rights can hardly be allowed to be subservient to the economic benefits of trading with China," the think tank said.

The US, by enacting the TPSA, has upped the ante against China vis-a-vis Tibet, the think tank noted, adding that the full impact of the act to take effect, the US would "dearly love for India to back and build upon its initiative".

"India is uniquely placed in relation to Tibet. In addition to sharing a long border with it, India has hosted the Dalai Lama and tens of thousands of his followers since 1959, and the CTA has chosen India as its headquarters. In recent years, moreover, aggressive and expansionist Chinese behaviour has turned the peace and cooperation carefully cultivated by India into conflict and loss of trust," the think tank added.

"The TSPA has armed India with more teeth in its ongoing confrontation with China, and the latter needs to wake up to the reality that a future abandoning of the policy of strategic restraint by India in favour of one in which it renames its border as the India - Tibet border, recognises the CTA and the Dalai Lama as the leader of the whole of Tibet, and demands Observer status for Tibet at the UN on the lines of Palestine, could gradually compel other democracies to come out in open support of Tibet and damagingly alter the dynamics for China forever," it added. (ANI)

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