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McGovern, Rubio, Baldwin, Hultgren Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Hold China Accountable on Tibet Human Rights

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 4, 2017 | comments
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Randy Hultgren (R-IL) and U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) today introduced the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would promote access to Tibetan areas by denying Chinese government officials access to the United States if they are responsible for creating or administering restrictions on American government officials, journalists, independent observers and tourists seeking to travel to Tibet.

U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Randy Hultgren (R-IL), co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, introduced the bill in the House.

“America needs to stand up for human rights at home and abroad. Both Democratic and Republican presidents have stressed the importance of protecting Tibet’s human rights and their unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions, but we can and must do more,” said Congressman McGovern. “If the United States is serious about protecting human rights in Tibet, we need to do more than talk the talk – we need to walk the walk. This bill will ensure there are consequences for China’s repressive policies. I first introduced this bill in 2014 and I am proud to introduce it again today with our bipartisan co-sponsors. Now is the time for America to lead.”

“The Chinese government’s oppression of Tibet includes keeping it off limits to Americans, journalists and others who can shine a bright light on the human rights violations committed daily against the Tibetan people,” said Rubio, chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. “We should not accept a double standard where Chinese officials can freely visit anywhere in the U.S. while they block our diplomats, journalists and Tibetan-Americans from visiting Tibet. This bipartisan bill will hold China accountable for its oppression and make it clear that if Chinese government officials want to enjoy the privilege of entering the United States, they must allow equal access to Tibet.”

“If the Chinese government stands by its ‘nothing to see here’ rhetoric about Tibet, than it should not be preventing U.S. government officials, journalists and citizens from visiting,” said Baldwin. “Access to Tibet is blocked precisely because of China’s widespread human rights violations there, including official oppression of Tibetans’ religious freedom, culture, language and autonomy. Chinese officials responsible for violations of democratic principles—and for hiding them through restricting U.S. citizen travel—should not expect to be allowed to travel freely in the United States—a country founded on those very principles.”

“China’s harsh restrictions surrounding Tibet are well-known. It remains unacceptable for China’s officials to enjoy access throughout the United States, while our own diplomats, journalists and Tibetan-Americans are restricted from visiting Tibet,” said Hultgren, Commissioner on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. “It’s time to end the double standard.”

The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act includes a national security waiver, and would require the U.S. Secretary of State to submit to Congress an assessment of the level of access to Tibet granted to American government officials, journalists, and tourists by Chinese officials. If the secretary determines that there are restrictions on travel to Tibet, the appropriate Chinese officials will be ineligible to enter the U.S.

This legislation is supported by the International Campaign for Tibet.

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