WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) commends President Donald J. Trump for signing the Tibetan Policy and Support Act (H.R.4331 / S.2539). This law establishes an official U.S. policy affirming the right of the Tibetan Buddhist community in selecting and venerating their own religious leaders, including the Dalai Lama. The law imposes sanctions on Chinese officials who interfere in the selection of a successor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In addition, it requires the Secretary of State to seek to establish a consulate in Lhasa.
“I commend President Trump for signing this important bill into law. It enacts a much-needed upgrade to existing U.S. policy on Tibet and sends a strong message to the Chinese Communist Party that it must respect the religious freedom of the Tibetan people, particularly the right of the Tibetan Buddhist community in the selection of a successor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama without government interference,” said USCIRF Commissioner Gary Bauer. “I also commend Senators Rubio and Cardin, Representatives McGovern and Smith, and all Members of Congress who supported this legislation. This coordinated, bipartisan effort demonstrates the U.S. government’s commitment and resolve to holding the Chinese government accountable for its egregious religious freedom violations against the Tibetan people.”
USCIRF also welcomes the U.S. Department of State’s recent imposition of broad visa restrictions on Chinese officials—regardless of their location—responsible for the persecution of religious and spiritual practitioners, ethnic minority groups, dissidents, human rights defenders, and others. In addition, this year, the U.S. government has imposed other visa restrictions and financial sanctions on Chinese officials involved in abuses in Xinjiang, restrictions on access to Tibet, and the destruction of Hong Kong’s autonomy.
“The Tibetan Policy and Support Act offers strong support to the persecuted Tibetan Buddhist community. Coupled with existing sanctions and visa restrictions, the U.S. government will hold accountable any Chinese officials who implement or enforce repressive policies that violate religious freedom and other human rights in China, including in Tibet,” added USCIRF Commissioner Nury Turkel. “I strongly urge the current and incoming administration to implement this law to its fullest extent.”
In July 2020, USCIRF applauded the administration’s targeted sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act against four senior Chinese officials, including Chen Quanguo, the current Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang and former Secretary for Tibet until 2016. Chen is responsible for the egregious religious freedom and human rights violations in Tibet and Xinjiang.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at [email protected].