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Ignoring Beijing’s Warnings, US Delegation Visits the Dalai Lama

Darren Maung
Darren is an aspiring writer who wishes to share or create stories to the world and bring humanity together as one. A massive Star Wars nerd and history buff, he finds enjoyable, heart-warming or interesting subjects in any written media.
Published: June 25, 2024
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama attends a long life prayer offered to him by his students and devotees at his temple in McLeod Ganj, some 10 Km from Dharamsala on Oct. 25, 2023. A bipartisan delegation of U.S. lawmakers visited the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India, on June 19, 2024. (Image: Prakash Singh/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

On June 19, a delegation of U.S. lawmakers visited the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, ignoring protests by Beijing. Such a visit has been seen as a chance to encourage self-determination for the people of Tibet.

The delegation, led by Rep. Michael McCaul (R) — who is also the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — was a bipartisan one, consisting of delegates from both Democrat and Republican parties. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was also among the delegates.

“Our presence here today is also a symbol, a sign to Chinese leaders that America will never ever waver in our support for the Tibetan people,” Rep. Jim McGovern, member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said.

They spent two days in the town located in northern India. 

When they landed on June 18 at Dharamsala’s Gaggal Airport, they were cheered by hundreds of Tibetans who waved American and Tibetan flags. 

Throughout the trip, the delegation visited the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and the Tibet Museum, joining a public ceremony formed by the CTA.

“The Tibetan people possess a distinct religion, culture and historic identity and they should have a say in their own future,” McCaul said during the ceremony. “You should be able to freely practice your religion and that is why we are here today in defiance of [the Chinese Communist Party’s] warning.”

The Resolve Tibet Act

This visit came after Congress passed the Resolve Tibet Act, a bill encouraging China to bring an end to their dispute with Tibet “through dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives,” Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.

President Joe Biden is expected to put the law into effect soon.

The bill is seen as “a major shift in U.S. policy towards Tibet on a road of self-determination,” McCaul told the CTA. “The United Nations talks about how every people and every country has a right to self-determination and we believe the people of Tibet have that right as well.”

It has been many decades since Beijing invaded Tibet in 1950, forcing the Dalai Lama to live in exile and the people to live under the repressive rule of the CCP. Communist control has been at work interfering in the reincarnation process of the region’s religious leaders, and attempting to manipulate the selection of the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation.

As McCaul expressed his gratitude to Tibetans for their hospitality and perseverance against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Dalai Lama thanked the delegation after being given a copy of the Resolve Tibet Act bill, calling it “very important.”


Beijing’s warnings

The communist government sent a letter to the U.S. delegation, warning them not to visit Dharamsala, McCaul claimed. 

“We are gravely concerned over the relevant reports and urge the U.S. side to fully recognize the anti-China separatist nature of the Dalai group, honor the commitments the U.S. has made to China on issues related to Xizang, have no contact with the Dalai group in any form, and stop sending the wrong signal to the world,” foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said at a media briefing on June 19.

He added that the Resolve Tibet Act must not be signed into law, warning that Beijing would “firmly defend its sovereignty, security and development interests.”

Beijing claims that the Dalai Lama wishes to separate the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan-populated areas from the country. However, he does not wish to be independent, hoping instead for a “Middle Way” that would accept Tibet as part of China with greater cultural and religious freedoms.

“We all are [the] same human being and we all have the same right. And this world belongs to humanity,” he said to the delegation.

On June 23, a week after the delegation’s visit, the Dalai Lama was flown to New York to receive knee treatment

The spiritual leader stayed at a Manhattan hotel, where countless followers wearing traditional Tibetan clothes awaited him. U.S.-born Tenzin Pasang performed a traditional dance for the Dalai Lama.

“Everyone was, like, emotional because he’s, like, our leader,” she said. “So it’s very nice to see him in New York.”

No further details have been shared regarding the treatment.