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house Bill H.R. 1872

Should the U.S. Deny Visas to Chinese Officials Involved in Restricting Foreigners’ Access to Tibet?

Argument in favor

China’s restriction of international access to Tibet is allowing it to hide human rights abuses that the international community should be aware of. There should be consequences for China’s refusal to allow foreigners into Tibetan areas — by denying visas to Chinese authorities who are part of developing the current Tibet policy, this bill is a step in the right direction.

Jennifer's Opinion
···
09/24/2018
China’s restriction of international access to Tibet is allowing it to hide human rights abuses that the international community should be aware of. There should be consequences for China’s refusal to allow foreigners into Tibetan areas — by denying visas to Chinese authorities who are part of developing the current Tibet policy, this bill is a step in the right direction.
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James's Opinion
···
09/24/2018
Yes! Tibet, a free and sovereign nation was invaded and illegally annexed by Communist China! The world should have fought this a little more forcefully as only the United States was there to rescue The Dalai Llama! How many countless Tibetans. Have been massacred, thrown into work camps and chased out of their homeland! That is an atrocity that few countries speak out against as they cozy up to The so called Peoples’ Republic. We should never have opened up ties with them as Taiwan is the rightful Free National Government of China in exile! We must improve our ties to Taiwan both economically and Militarily!
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Rick 's Opinion
···
09/24/2018
Anyone trying to keep their own citizens from traveling abroad has no rights for themselves to travel!!!
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Argument opposed

International awareness of the human rights problems in Tibet is already high, and the Dalai Lama and other advocacy organizations have been able to inform the international community about what’s happening even with the current access restrictions. Given China’s importance to the U.S., it’s unwise to antagonize the Chinese government over expanding access to Tibet.

Donna's Opinion
···
09/24/2018
It is really rich that as our elected officials allow and promote the destruction of the rule of law in our own country they seek to play moral police in the practices of other sovereign nations. I do not support the violation of the rights of any human, anywhere in the world, but until these officials start protecting the rights of Americans, they have no grounds on which to accuse or bully ANY other nation on this planet!
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Hillary's Opinion
···
09/24/2018
If the US were currently treating people from other countries with respect and dignity then we would have an inch or so of moral high ground upon which to stand. As things stand with the current administration there is no way we have any authority what so ever to impose sanctions or penalties of any kind.
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John's Opinion
···
09/24/2018
Are we going to encourage other countries to restrict visas for US officials who deny asylum seekers into our country?
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What is House Bill H.R. 1872?

This bill — known as the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2017 — would require the State Department to submit an annual, publicly available report to Congress with: 1) a list of individuals holding specified senior Chinese leadership positions at the national and subnational levels; and 2) an assessment of the level of access Chinese authorities grant to U.S. diplomats, journalists, and tourists to Tibetan areas in China. Chinese officials could be subject to visa restrictions or revocation based on the level of their involvement in such activities.

The access assessment would include:

  • A comparison with the level of access granted to other areas of China;

  • A comparison between the levels of access granted to Tibetan and non-Tibetan areas in relevant provinces;

  • A comparison of the level of access in the reporting year and the previous year; and

  • A description of the measures that impede the freedom to travel in Tibetan areas

Chinese authorities who are substantially involved in the formulation or execution of policies restricting foreigners’ access to Tibetan areas would be ineligible for visas to enter or be present in the U.S. if specified restrictions on foreign travelers entering Tibetan areas remain in effect, subject to a national security interest waiver. Any visas currently held by such individuals would be revoked.

The State Department would report annually to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, as well as the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on the number of actions taken regarding visas under this legislation.

This bill would also express the sense of Congress that the State Department should take into account the extent to which China grants U.S. diplomats access to parts of China, including the Tibetan areas, when it grants Chinese diplomats access to parts of the U.S.

Impact

China; Tibet; Chinese officials; State Department; and Congress.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1872

The CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost less than $500,000 over the 2019-2023 period.

More Information

In-DepthRep. James McGovern (D-MA) introduced this bill to create reciprocity between U.S. and Chinese citizens’ abilities to travel in each others’ countries:

“The rationale for the bill is simple. 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.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who introduced companion legislation to this bill in the Senate, said:

“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. 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.”

The International Campaign for TibetU.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China, and United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) support this bill. The International Campaign for Tibet’s president, Matteo Mecacci, said:

“This bill is another example of the consistent support the United States Congress has for Tibet. It conveys a clear message to the Trump Administration regarding the implementation of the principles of ‘reciprocity’ in its relations with China, aimed at promoting more access to Tibet for US citizens, including diplomats, politicians, non-governmental organizations, and journalists. While Chinese officials and citizens have unfettered and free access across the United States of America, US officials and citizens, including Tibetan-Americans, are highly restricted in traveling to Tibet. Unless restrictions on US citizens and officials are eased, then Chinese officials with oversight on Tibet policy should not be allowed into the United States… For decades, restricted access to Tibet for independent observers, journalists and diplomats and international organizations has shown that the Chinese government has no credibility when it comes to assess the reality of the situation inside Tibet; why does the Chinese government not allow visitors to travel freely to Tibet if it does not have anything to hide?”

This bill passed the Committee on the Judiciary on a unanimous voice vote with the support of 55 cosponsors, including 11 Republicans and 44 Democrats.


Of NoteThe Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) entered Tibet in 1950 to establish control over the region. In the years since then, the State Department notes that the Chinese government has imposed severe restrictions on Tibetans’ ability to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms. These restrictions affect religious practices, freedom to travel, freedom to practice cultural and language preferences, and other aspects of everyday life. Additionally, the Chinese government is accused of routinely engaging in human rights abuses such as extrajudicial killings, torture, and arbitrary arrests.The Chinese government’s abuses are so severe, over 150 Tibetans have self-immolated in a last-ditch effort to get the rest of the world to pay attention to them over the past few years.

To prevent foreign media’s documentation of the religious freedom restrictions and other human rights abuses, the Chinese government has severely limited foreign nationals’ access to the Tibetan regions. These limitations prevent access for U.S. officials seeking diplomatic and consular access, journalists, human rights workers, and even tourists. On the rare occasions when access is granted, activities are closely monitored, and the information disseminated is restricted.

Matteo Mecacci, president of the International Campaign for Tibet, states that “the Chinese leadership is seeking to enforce complete isolation in Tibet” to an extent that is even worse than North Korea, where at least some foreign media is based.

Despite the human rights abuses in Tibet, travel by Chinese nationals, including those with direct and substantial involvement in the formulation of policies to restrict access to Tibet, is routinely allowed by governments all over the world, including the U.S. For example, in fiscal year 2017, the U.S. issued 1.5 million 10-year tourists visas to Chinese nationals and 4,500 diplomatic visas to Chinese officials.

In 2002, Congress passed the Tibetan Policy Act (TPA) “to support the aspirations of the Tibetan people to safeguard their distinct identity.” That legislation laid out steps to protect the distinct religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of Tibet, and to press for improved respect for the human rights of the Tibetan people by starting a dialogue between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government; sought the immediate and unconditional release of Tibetan prisoners of conscience; established a U.S. consular office in Lhasa; and requested that the 11th Panchen Lama be allowed to pursue his religious studies without Chinese government interference.

However, there has been little progress on the TPA's goals 15 years later. The Chinese-Tibetan dialogue has been suspended since 2010; hundreds of Tibetan prisoners of conscience exist today, and some have died in custody; there is still no U.S. consular office in Lhasa; the Chinese government has declared that it will decide who will be reincarnated as the next Dalai Lama; and the 11th Panchen Lama, the second-highest leader in the Tibetan religion, is missing.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / kiwisoul)

AKA

Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018

Official Title

To promote access for United States diplomats and other officials, journalists, and other citizens to Tibetan areas of the People's Republic of China, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Foreign Relations
  • The house Passed September 26th, 2018
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
      Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Immigration and Citizenship
    IntroducedApril 4th, 2017

Log in or create an account to see how your Reps voted!
    China’s restriction of international access to Tibet is allowing it to hide human rights abuses that the international community should be aware of. There should be consequences for China’s refusal to allow foreigners into Tibetan areas — by denying visas to Chinese authorities who are part of developing the current Tibet policy, this bill is a step in the right direction.
    Like (17)
    Follow
    Share
    It is really rich that as our elected officials allow and promote the destruction of the rule of law in our own country they seek to play moral police in the practices of other sovereign nations. I do not support the violation of the rights of any human, anywhere in the world, but until these officials start protecting the rights of Americans, they have no grounds on which to accuse or bully ANY other nation on this planet!
    Like (28)
    Follow
    Share
    If the US were currently treating people from other countries with respect and dignity then we would have an inch or so of moral high ground upon which to stand. As things stand with the current administration there is no way we have any authority what so ever to impose sanctions or penalties of any kind.
    Like (23)
    Follow
    Share
    Are we going to encourage other countries to restrict visas for US officials who deny asylum seekers into our country?
    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes! Tibet, a free and sovereign nation was invaded and illegally annexed by Communist China! The world should have fought this a little more forcefully as only the United States was there to rescue The Dalai Llama! How many countless Tibetans. Have been massacred, thrown into work camps and chased out of their homeland! That is an atrocity that few countries speak out against as they cozy up to The so called Peoples’ Republic. We should never have opened up ties with them as Taiwan is the rightful Free National Government of China in exile! We must improve our ties to Taiwan both economically and Militarily!
    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes. Free Tibet!
    Like (7)
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    Support a free Tibet.
    Like (7)
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    Anyone trying to keep their own citizens from traveling abroad has no rights for themselves to travel!!!
    Like (6)
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    We don’t have room to talk, really?
    Like (6)
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    If they are restricting other peoples travels, we should restrict their travel and deny them Visas.
    Like (5)
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    Yes,absolutely
    Like (4)
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    China needs to open up public access to Tibet if they don't we should restrict their access
    Like (3)
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    It seems reasonable to expect a quid pro quo from China regarding access to Tibet for diplomats, journalists, and especially Tibetan-Americans.
    Like (3)
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    China’s human rights violations including in Tibet are horrific, but I find this piece of legislation incredibly hypocritical given that the United States has committed plenty of human rights violations across the world and in our own country. If the United States is going to seriously combat human rights abuses in other countries, we need to clean up our own act first.
    Like (3)
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    Should other countries do this to the US because of the Muslim ban?
    Like (3)
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    Tibet, being autonomous, should be open to all that Tibet determines to allow access to.
    Like (2)
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    MAKES SENSE.
    Like (2)
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    If we are not allowed in Tibet then they are not allowed foreign investment in our country plain and simple
    Like (2)
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    China needs to be challenged politically. Trump screwed up our ability to effectively contain China economically when he withdrew the United States from the TPP. This bill is part of that political challenge.
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    The Chinese involved need a dose of karma
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