Donald Trump signs off law that pre-empts China’s moves on Dalai Lama
New Delhi, Dec 27: US President Donald Trump has signed into a law a bill that pre-empts China's moves on the Dalai Lama.
It may be recalled that earlier this month a bill that re-affirms the right of Tibetans to choose a successor to the Dalai Lama was passed by the US Congress.
The Tibetan Police and Support Act of 2020 which was passed by the US Senate calls for the establishment of a US Consulate in Tibet's main city of Lhasa. It also underlines the right of the Tibetans to choose a successor to the Dalai Lama.
A statement by the Central Tibetan Administration said after the approval, "the TPSA makes it official United States policy that decisions regarding the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama are exclusively within the authority of the current Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhist leaders and the Tibetan people."
Trump signed the act on Sunday as part of the massive $2.3 trillion package for the year-end bill to provide long-delayed coronavirus relief and fund the federal government.
The law now authorises the Office of the US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues and expands the office's duties to include additional tasks, such as pursuing international coalitions to ensure that the next Dalai Lama is appointed solely by the Tibetan Buddhist faith community.
It also directs the Secretary of State not to open a new Chinese consulate in the US unless China allows the opening of an American consulate in Lhasa.
It is the policy of the US to take all appropriate measures to hold accountable senior officials of the Chinese Government or the Chinese Communist Party who directly interfere with the identification and installation of the future 15th Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism, the successor to the 14th Dalai Lama.
Beijing views the 14th Dalai Lama as a "separatist" working to split Tibet from China.
Any interference by the Chinese government officials will be met with serious sanctions and deemed inadmissible into the United States, the statement also read. The President of the Central Tibetan Administration president, Lobsang Sangay said that this was a victory for the Tibetan freedom struggle.
We have been pushing for this for the last two years. The move by the US Congress is a tribute to the great legacy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the courage and solidarity of six million Tibetans inside Tibet.
Last month Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel D Brownback told reporters that China has no theological basis to pick the next Dalai Lama, according to a top US diplomat, asserting that the Tibetan Buddhists have successfully picked their spiritual leader for hundreds of years.
"They have no right to do that. They have no theological basis to do that. The Tibetan Buddhists have successfully picked their leader for hundreds of years, if not longer, and they have the right to do that now," he said in response to a question.
Brownback said the US supports that religious communities have the right to pick their own leadership.
That certainly includes the next Dalai Lama. So we've pushed back against that. We're going to continue to push back against that. We think that's completely wrong of the Chinese Communist Party to assert that they have that right," he said.
The 14th Dalai Lama, now 85, has been living in India ever since he fled Tibet in 1959 following a Chinese crackdown on an uprising by the local population. The Tibetan government-in-exile operates from Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. Over 1,60,000 Tibetans live in India.