McGovern Applauds Committee Approval of Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman James P. McGovern, Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the U.S. House of Representatives and a leading advocate of human rights around the world, applauded the House Judiciary Committee’s unanimous approval of a bipartisan bill he authored, The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act (H.R. 1872). The Committee’s action is a key first step towards passage of the bill by Congress.

The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act promotes access for United States diplomats and officials, journalists, and other citizens to Tibetan areas of the People’s Republic of China. Although the basis of diplomatic law is mutual access and reciprocity, and Chinese officials, journalists and tourists generally travel freely within the United States, the Chinese government has erected many barriers to Americans who seek to travel to Tibet.

Under the Congressman's bill, Chinese authorities who design and implement restrictions on travel to Tibetan areas would become ineligible for admission to the United States. The bill would also require an annual public report assessing whether China is allowing Americans to travel to Tibet.

“The rationale for the bill is simple,” said McGovern. “While the Chinese enjoy broad access to the United States, the same is not true for U.S. diplomats, journalists or tourists going to Tibet, including Tibetan-Americans trying to visit their country of origin. This is simply unacceptable. If China wants its citizens and officials to travel freely in the U.S., Americans must be able to travel freely in China, including Tibet.”

The bill must still be considered by the House Foreign Affairs Committee before advancing to the floor of the House. A companion bill is under consideration in the Senate.

“I am very pleased that the House Judiciary Committee took this important first step, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers to ensure full passage,” said McGovern. “I have been blessed to visit Tibet and meet its people, and I look forward to the day when all Americans will have that opportunity without having to run a Chinese obstacle course.”