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Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, has announced visa restrictions for some Chinese officials under the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, 2018, on Tuesday. He said that he is announcing the restrictions on PRC government and Chinese Communist Party officials over alleged involvement in the formulation or execution of policies related to access for foreigners to Tibetan areas.
Today I announced visa restrictions on PRC officials involved in restricting foreigners’ access to Tibet. We will continue to seek reciprocity in our relationship.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 7, 2020
Pompeo said, “Access to Tibetan areas is increasingly vital to regional stability, given the PRC’s human rights abuses there, as well as Beijing’s failure to prevent environmental degradation near the headwaters of Asia’s major rivers.”
Restricted access to Tibet
Beijing has systematically stopped access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas for US diplomats, journalists, tourists and other officials. However, PRC officials and Chinese citizens have complete access to the United States. He added that the United States would continue to work for the Tibetan communities’ environmental conservation and economic development. The US will support Tibetan communities to improve their humanitarian conditions within the People’s Republic of China and abroad.
The US is committed to supporting meaningful autonomy for Tibetans, Pompeo said, “The United States respects their fundamental and inalienable human rights and will work to preserve their unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identities”. Pompeo added, “In the spirit of true reciprocity, we will work closely with the U.S. Congress to ensure U.S. citizens have full access to all areas of the People’s Republic of China, including the TAR and other Tibetan areas.”
Hindustan Times reported that for the fiscal year 2021 that starts on October 1, the State Department funding for Tibetan issues had been proposed to be $17 million. As per the budget papers, an additional $1 million has been proposed for a Special Coordinator of Tibetan Issues.
Previously, the US has initiated sanctions on Chinese officials over the Uyghur issue.
Free Tibet is in India’s benefit
Tibetan refugees are living in India for years. In the light of standoff with China, Tibetans have wholeheartedly supported India. China’s occupation of Tibet has caused a massive increase in India’s security budget. If in the future, Tibet gets free from the dragon’s claws, it will help the Tibetans reclaim their roots and help India improve its border security. Tibetan leaders, including the CTA President Lobsang Sangay, have asserted time and again that a free Tibet will mean regional peace, harmony and reduced military spending for India, which had, before the Chinese occupation of Tibet, had never shared a border with the communist expansionist nation.