China’s actions against Tibet have consistently attracted condemnation from all nations across the world. Not only does Beijing deny Tibetans the freedom they deserve, but foreigners are restricted from entering the region. However, a new policy by the United States seeks to force China to grant Americans the right to enter Tibet or face dire consequences.
Denying access to Tibet
In September, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act,” which aims to make Beijing give Americans access to Tibet in the same way that Chinese are given access to the United States. “The Reciprocal Act to Tibet Act is about fairness, human rights, and careful U.S. diplomacy at its core. For too long, China restricted access to Tibet, preventing journalists from observing human rights abuses in Tibet and preventing Tibetan Americans from visiting their home country. This bill seeks to reset that table,” NDTV quotes Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.
The act comes with a national security waiver and requires the U.S. Secretary of State to determine the level of access that China has given American officials, tourists, and journalists to visit Tibet. If the Secretary concludes that China has imposed unreasonable restrictions on American visitors, the bill empowers the U.S. to deny entry to appropriate Chinese officials.
Meanwhile, the Chinese are tiptoeing around the issue of access to Tibet, even resorting to claims that the Tibetan climate might be too harsh for Americans and that access is restricted to protect the environment.
“Well, not everybody could quickly get used to such climate and natural conditions. Even for Chinese. Many of them would not feel very well once they are there… we have to protect the local environment. We should have some limit on the number of people outside visit every year. Otherwise the burden on the environment will be too heavy… If we can take good care of all these things we certainly welcome American visitors to go there,” QZ quotes Cui Tiankai, Chinese ambassador to the U.S.
Anti-Tibet attitude of Beijing
Since China is ruled by communist ideology, it seeks to destroy Tibet’s ancient spiritual traditions and culture. And this is why Tibetans oppose Chinese rule in their lands. Beijing is hell-bent on wiping out even the native languages. In May, Chinese courts sentenced a local Tibetan, Tashi Wangchuk, to five years behind bars. His crime? He wanted the Tibetan language to be included in Tibet’s school curriculum. This appeal was seen as “inciting separatism” by the Chinese communists, who arrested Tashi and sent him to jail.
“The rejection of [his] appeal is clear proof that people should be trembling with fear. China’s new policy aims to criminalize Tibetan culture, such as by attacking people or groups that are only trying to promote their own language and culture. China should immediately release Tashi Wangchuk unconditionally,” UCA News quotes a statement issued by the International Tibet Network.
China is also using its financial power to censor debates about Tibet in the West. In the UK, a football tournament was asked to remove Tibet from its competing teams or risk losing sponsorship. A college debate about the danger China poses to the West led to organizers receiving threats that the UK would get less favorable trade terms from Beijing if the debate was not canceled.